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'The House That Jack Built' an uproarious portrait of a less-than-perfect family

'The House That Jack Built' an uproarious portrait of a less-than-perfect family
Melissa Fumero and E.J. Bonilla in the movie "The House That Jack Built." (Vega Baby Releasing)

"The House That Jack Built" first impresses as a sitcom involving a large and uproarious ethnic household. Jack (E.J. Bonilla) moves his entire clan into a multi-family brownstone in the Bronx to keep it close-knit. But this family portrait is far from his picture-perfect ideal, prompting Jack to meddle in everyone's affairs.

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Jack tells white lies to shield his parents from his pot-dealing and his sister Nadia's (Rosal Colon) same-sex relationship. He plays mediator to defuse marital discord between his mother, Martha (Saundra Santiago), and his father, Carlos (John Herrera), as well as between his brother, Richie (Leo Minaya), and his sister-in-law, Rosa (Flor De Liz Perez). Jack's nagging fiancée, Lily (Melissa Fumero), prematurely picks out a wedding dress, while there's also a turf war brewing around his corner.

Written by "Hangin' With the Homeboys" filmmaker Joseph B. Vasquez and produced close to two decades after his death, the film still feels gritty and authentic, thanks to director Henry Barrial.

The personality flaws of the characters and the dysfunctions of the household are instantly recognizable from this very capable cast, yet they never come off as cliché. Vasquez came from a broken home, so perhaps he had longed for one like this one.

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"The House That Jack Built."

No MPAA rating.

Running time: 1 hour, 27 minutes.

Playing: Arena Cinema, Hollywood. Also on VOD.

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