Friday March 28, 1997
Renee Taylor and Joseph Bologna's "Love Is All There Is" keeps saying that love isn't enough when it's their movie that's not enough.
The only way this old-fashioned romantic comedy would have had a prayer of making it is if its primary focus had stayed firmly on its young lovers, played by attractive and talented Angelina Jolie and Nathaniel Marston, instead of on their warring parents and other middle-agers, laden with familiar Taylor-Bologna shtick and angst. "Love Is All There Is" is one tale of young love definitely aimed at an older crowd.
Marston's Rosario is the beloved son of Sadie (Lainie Kazan) and Mike Capamezza (Bologna), proprietors of a large and highly popular restaurant in an Italian American neighborhood on the Bronx's City Island, a highly inviting locale. Jolie's Gina is the daughter of the Count (Paul Sorvino) and Countess di Malacicci (Barbara Carrera, stuck with the world's worst platinum blond wig), who've just opened a ritzy restaurant across an inlet from the Capamezzas' establishment. The Capamezzas are blue collar to the hilt, but the snobby Di Malacicci is shrewd enough to remark to his wife, "We have to look out for the lower-class clientele." A rivalry, especially for expensive wedding parties, immediately erupts.
Wouldn't you know that, to the horror of their parents, Rosario and Gina would be cast in a high school production of "Romeo and Juliet" and instantly fall in love? (Their anxious drama teacher, who's having a romance of her own, is played deliciously by Connie Stevens, complete with Bronx accent.)
These teenagers really are likable, normal kids, and screen time would have been far better spent in letting us get to know them better than with Sadie endlessly phoning or running off for advice from the eccentric, highly unreliable neighborhood psychic (Taylor).
If there's not enough of Rosario and Gina there's too much of practically everything else: lots and lots of comedy that's sillier than funny, served with a generous dollop of mother-love sentimentality. The often-depicted working-class Italian American-style passion for kitsch in decor and apparel and boisterous behavior is laid on so heavily that it becomes hard to describe its effect as affectionate in tone.
Kazan is an exuberant life force with an enormous vulnerability, but Taylor and Bologna push her too close to caricature. "Love Is All There Is" is much like one of the ornate Capamezza wedding cakes--too sugary, too over-the-top and quick to grow stale. You're better off catching their 1971 gem, "Made for Each Other," which is screening Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m.
Love Is All There Is, 1997. R, for some sexual content. A Samuel Goldwyn Co. and Cinema Seven Productions presentation. Writers-directors Renee Taylor & Joseph Bologna. Producers Elliott Kastner. Executive producer George Pappas. Cinematographer Alan Jones. Editors Nicholas Eliopoulos & Dennis M. O'Connor. Costumes Donna Granata. Music Jeff Beal. Production designer Ron Norsowrthy. Art director Ellee Wynn Brisco. Set decorator Regina Graves. Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes. Lainie Kazan as Sadie. Joseph Bologna as Mike. Nathaniel Marston as Rosario. Paul Sorvino as Piero. Barbara Carrera as Maria. Angelina Jolie as Gina.