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A Wake in Providence
A Wake in Providence (1999)
Movie
  • Director:
    Rosario Roveto Jr.
  • Category:
  • Writer:
    Billy Van Zandt,Jane Milmore
  • Cast:
    Vincent Pagano,Victoria Rowell,Adrienne Barbeau
  • Time:
    1h 32min
  • Year:
    1999
Going back home can be hard, particularly when you come from a traditional Italian family, and especially when the girlfriend you bring back is not Italian. But the roof caves in when she's African American. This is the problem that Anthony faces when he brings Alissa from Los Angeles to his boyhood home of Providence, Rhode Island to attend his grandfather's funeral.
Casts
Cast overview, first billed only:
Vincent Pagano Vincent Pagano - Anthony
Victoria Rowell Victoria Rowell - Alissa
Mike Pagano Mike Pagano - Frankie
Adrienne Barbeau Adrienne Barbeau - Aunt Lidia
Lisa Raggio Lisa Raggio - Claudia
Billy Van Zandt Billy Van Zandt - Louie
John Mariano John Mariano - Brunie
Mark DeCarlo Mark DeCarlo - Vinnie
Jane Milmore Jane Milmore - Patty
Kaye Kingston Kaye Kingston - Gram Baldassarre
Louis Guss Louis Guss - Uncle Guy
Micole Mercurio Micole Mercurio - Aunt Elaine
Sam Coppola Sam Coppola - Uncle Joe
Magda Harout Magda Harout - Aunt Alma
John Capodice John Capodice - Uncle Sal

A Wake in Providence (1999)
NiceOne
NiceOne
While some performances were good-Victoria Rowell, Adrienne Barbeau, and the two Italian girlfriends come to mind-the story was lame and derivative, the emphasis on the girlfriend's racial background was handled clumsily at best, and the relatives were mostly portrayed as stereotypes, not as real people. I found myself wincing uncomfortably at many moments that were supposed to be funny. I can hardly comprehend why the local paper here in SF said this was a good movie, and wonder WHO posted the glowing review here on IMDb. Very disappointed in this movie, and mad I actually went to a theatre to see it, based on the faulty connection to Garden State, which is a far funnier, more inventive, and touching movie than this one. I must especially mention the emotional climax in the church, which was so wooden and by-the-numbers that I nearly left, and some in the audience actually DID. THAT was followed by a silly climax at the graveyard, which I saw coming 10 minutes before it happened. I really don't like being misled to spend my money so uselessly.
Kare
Kare
OK, I was born and raised in East Providence in a mostly Portugese Catholic family so all this was very familiar to me. I recognized most of the locations in the exterior shots (Federal Hill, AKA Goombatown) and I know these characters so for me this movie was almost like a trip home. Granted, the characters are a bit stereotypical but, there actually are people like that in Rhode Island and I know a lot of them. The neighborhood bar actually looked like my Uncle Angelo's basement, complete with the tacky lighting and fake wood paneling on the walls! Yes, the story is reminiscent of the old Hepburn-Tracy classic but with this family and setting, it takes on a fresh feel. I recommend it to anyone who needs a good laugh...
Funky
Funky
A Wake In Providence is one of the best films I've ever seen. I saw it at a special screening, and couldn't wait for the release - so I could take my family and friends. Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore are extremely talented writers. Adrienne Barbeau is at her best. Great performances are given by the truly talented ensemble cast. I hope somebody wakes up and realizes what a gem this motion picture is. Oh, I forgot!!! We are in the generation of Jerry Springer, Survivor, Who Want's To Marry a Millionaire, and movies now produced by the god-awful MTV. Who'd want to see a movie with taste...?
Swordsong
Swordsong
One of the best movies I have seen. It is a throw back to character driven movies of the 30's and 40's and the acting is superb. It is a shame that this hasn't been released on video, as it is truly a family feel good picture.
Viashal
Viashal
I happened to see the premiere of "A Wake in Providence" in Warwick Rhode Island. I thought that it was written well by the brothers and their acting was very good too. The whole cast did a superb job, from the beautiful Victoria Rowell to the funny/insane Lisa Raggio. The Director did a brilliant job making everything work out of course his job was made a little bit easier from the fact that they were all top notch actors. The story was hilarious I laughed my butt off, maybe you had to be from RI to understand it but still one of the best comedies I've seen so far or at least since "Something about Mary"!!, which coincidently was also made in RI !! This movie gave me flashbacks (sweating, breaking out in hives,funny flashbacks) of my years growing up in an Italian family living in Providence Rhode Island!!
Iaran
Iaran
One of those movies that makes me wonder who is at the helm on in Hollywood. Why hasn't this hit Major theaters??? 90% of the comedies promoted out of Hollywood and onto the "Big" screen since 1999 do not come close to the hilarity of this film. Kudos to the director and actors! Demerit to the producers and promoters. Someone that is close to this film needs to get a move on hiring people capable of moving it into the mainstream. It would be a shame if more people with a taste for true comedic talent were not exposed to this film. Give me the job! Give a child the job! Do something! For those of you who haven't been given the chance to see this movie here is a quick review..

"A Wake in Providence" has been sitting around since 1999, giving it a whiff of failure it doesn't deserve. Held from distribution for years by a legal battle, it turns out to be a pretty decent comedy of manners.

The story of an Italian American (Vincent Pagano) who surprises his family by bringing an African American girlfriend (Victoria Rowell) to his grandfather's wake, this picture tackles race relations more honestly than the sanitized "Guess Who." Here, relatives of the young man, Anthony, are shocked by his girlfriend, Alissa, and they say so.

Anthony's grandmother (Kaye Kingston, shot by director Rosario Roveto Jr. with a fishbowl lens that makes her look fearsome) tells Alissa that she's not Italian and therefore not welcome. Another relative asks that everyone at the dinner table vote on whether to accept Alissa - with Alissa sitting there.

Yet "A Wake in Providence," within its broad depiction of Italian Americans, dispels trite notions about this family and families in general. For instance, everyone fears the reaction of Anthony's stereotypically overbearing Italian mother (Lisa Raggio), who pulls her two grown sons by their ears by way of greeting. But she's not worried about Alissa's race, pointing out that Africa is just across the water from Sicily.

Rowell brings a hint of grit to a character who at first seems too perfect to be believed, a la Sidney Poitier's character in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner." Alissa accuses Anthony of being ashamed of their relationship. She's more upset that he didn't tell his relatives about her than she is about their reactions.

Pagano, who co-wrote the script with his brother, Mike, along with Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore, allows his character to be less than heroic and even a bit of a bubblehead about matters of diversity. But he's never quite as appealing as his brother, who also appears in the film.

Playing Anthony's green-grocer brother, Mike Pagano is an exciting, emotionally accessible presence, crafting a character who is more complicated than he seems. You almost wish the brothers' roles had been reversed.

The lighting is warm and inviting, especially when it's Adrienne Barbeau being lit. As Anthony's liberal-minded aunt, Barbeau combines good-humored wisdom with well-seasoned beauty.

The film offers amusing cultural critics outside the family in the characters of a cabbie and his wife (Mark DeCarlo and co-screenwriter Milmore) who give Anthony rides and advice. The taxi driver recalls defending his non-Italian wife to his Italian mother: "Yes, she's done time in the pen ... yes, she has a sewer mouth ... but she loves me."

By Carla Meyer -- The Sacramento Bee

Find me Carla Meyer so I can marry her!!!!!
Dilmal
Dilmal
I though this movie was funny, A true Italian American family in Rhode Island. I went threw the same thing with my family but I let them meet her without a death in the family. Mistake that was. This movie has a lot more going on. Because the Grandfather died Anthony has to take his African American girlfriend to meet his (FBI) Full Blown Italian Family for the funeral in Providence, Rhode Island. Two moronic cousins, crazy aunts.They really are good people deep down. But they say what's on their minds. This movie was film in Providence. Nobody in his family knows she is African American. They just know her name Alissa. Can't tell you anymore you must see. It's out in limited theaters But it isn't playing in Providence. Maybe some day.
zmejka
zmejka
Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn would roll over in their graves if they knew this Guess Who's Coming to Dinner Rip Off was actually in theaters. Along with Sidney Poitier and Katherine Houghton these four brilliant actors made a great cultural statement with Director Stanley Kramer's 1967 master piece. This present day rip off is a joke. So a white guy from an overly stereotyped Italian family in Rhode Island brings his African American girlfriend home (Insert GASP here) to his grand father's funeral. His family members reactions were of course....predictable. This movie was so painfully telegraphed from start to finish my girlfriend actually started fake snoring to signal to me that she wanted to leave. Do yourself a favor and rent the original. Take a pass on Wake.
Flarik
Flarik
"A Wake in Providence" is the Italian-American version of "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" Aspiring actor Tony Gelati (Vincent Pagano) and paralegal girlfriend Alissa (Victoria Rowell) travel from Los Angeles to Providence, Rhode Island to attend the funeral of Tony's grandfather and to introduce Alissa to his family. A complication is that Tony has never told his traditional Sicilian relatives (the Gelati-Baldassarre clan) that Alissa's heritage is African-American. Now the family really has nothing against Alissa or black folks in general. But the relations (and culture) are ethnocentric Italians (except for the adopted Korean boy Nicky who is nonetheless culturally Italian), and folks tend to marry those of the same heritage. In addition they tell it as it is. So when Tony introduces Alissa there is anxiety, although his brother and aunt are open-minded. Things come to froth when an upset Alissa accuses Tony of being ashamed of their relationship. Tony is not ashamed, but as he initially does not stand up for her he is misunderstood. In reality Tony is anxious about his family's reaction, and he wants their approval of the relationship.

What is unusual is that the protagonist Tony is not really presented as gallant until the denouement. "A Wake in Providence" is a romantic comedy, not a drama. Although the movie satirizes stereotypes, it seems to emphasize them brazenly. For example, note the portrayals of the attractive, but over-sexed, Italian girlfriends, Gina DiFonzo (Michele Maika) and Connie (Leigh Allyn Baker). Lisa Raggio as Claudia, who is almost insane, still uses corporal punishment on her two sons. The two cousins, played by John Mariano and co-scripter Billy Van Zandt, are ludicrous ("mooks" says the Nicky the Korean). Nevertheless the acting and comedy are fine. Adrienne Barbeau plays the cool, hard-drinking liberal Aunt Lidia very well. She too has a bit of a secret. Victoria Rowell does a great job as the beleaguered but dignified Alissa. Mike Pagano, Vincent's real life brother, plays his brother Frankie. Frankie, although initially surprised, is supportive of the couple. He has a secret that he reveals at dinner time. Kaye Kingston as the new widow, Gram Baldassarre, seems a bit over-expressive although she is humorous. Jerry Vale has a cameo as the suave singer, Buddy Verona. The cross- dressing scene around the 70-minute mark adds nothing to the movie. But the story line moves well and there are plenty of laughs throughout. The implication at the end is that the family will improve.

On-location filming is always a plus. Locals will easily recognize such landmarks as the "Pineapple" on Federal Hill, the "Superman" Building in downtown Providence, Camille's Restaurant, St. Mary's Church, and TF Green Airport. There are glimpses of Rhode Island fare, such as Del's Lemonade. This not-generally known feature, filmed in 1999, was not widely distributed until 2005.
Xcorn
Xcorn
Loved the local scenes and Victoria Rowell is a favorite. Some silly stuff but that made it funny. Very much like the true families of home. Live in NC now and Mom and I enjoyed every minute. The story is like Guess who's coming to Dinner and the native scenes of Camille's and D'Angelo's bring back fond memories of great food and fun. The movie is 11 years old but I had never heard of it before. Watched it on Encore on directv and loved it. I am sending links to friends in RI to look for it so they can enjoy the silliness. I would recommend it to anyone in the new england area familiar with Providence as well as anyone who enjoys mixed family situations. Please check it out and if you can travel to RI please go to Camille's for dinner - it's the best in the city.
Talrajas
Talrajas
As a Rhode Islander of ONLY 22 years, I try to see films about or made in RI. This film captured a segment of Rhode Island life that was very authentic. Anthony (now an actor in LA), who comes from a very proud and ethnocentric Italian family, returns home to Rhode Island for his grandfather's funeral before he's had a chance to tell his family that his fiancé is black. Watching his family handle the "shock" of meeting her, how Anthony deals with them, and their private conflict over everything is a heart-warming and honest depiction of family. The characters were genuine and extremely well acted, and the story was both funny and sad and very human. If you like ethnic movies and watching people learn and grow with each other, this is worth watching. And if you like watching scenes of Providence, it's great.
Bys
Bys
What a great film!!! We laughed so hard!!! The film maker's took a fun script and ran with it. The cast is great with so many familiar faces! Just to name a few you'll recognize Victoria Rowell, Adrienne Barbeau, Dan Lauria and many others!

It's a quirky romantic comedy with fun twists and turns that work!!! The film's director has done a terrific job in keeping the story crisply moving along. He successfully injects the right amount of comedy without going over the top! We really enjoyed this film and so will you!

The only mystery is how this film has been hidden from the public since 1999!!! Have fun and enjoy the show!
Kupidon
Kupidon
Wonderful. Loads of fun and laughs. Recommend this movie to all your friends! All married men go through this process. Trying to get approval from your loved ones. It is so important. But why? The writer and director spin this tale of love and uncertainty seamlessly. My wife and I laughed and even cheered during this movie. I can't say that we've had that experience while watching movies together often. A comedy secretly wrapped in a love story is the best way I can describe this movie. The cast is so stereotypically funny. The bride-to -be is so wonderful and charming. By loving her man so much she is willing to let him go. The dinner scene is one of my favorites. We get to meet the whole family at one time. The director did a great job being able to capture so much in one scene. Bravo!
Jorad
Jorad
Move over "Greek Wedding" this is the year for and Italian Funeral!

Anthony Gelati, a struggling young actor living in Venice, California, has finally landed his first major role in a movie. He races home to share the news with his live-in girlfriend Alissa who reminds him that he promised to introduce her to his family back East when he was cast in a big movie. Anthony, who is Full-Blooded Italian, has been apprehensive about bringing her home because she is African-American, something he has not yet told his family.

The result, a comedy masterpiece!

Director Rosario Roveto Jr. scores big on this his debut movie. Hollywood needs to jump on the bandwagon with this one! This is on my "A" list! It was refreshing to see Adrienne Barbeau as part of this talented cast. She is still her stunning self. Brothers is Vincet & Mike Pagano bring a realistic portrayal of life in a traditional Italian family. They also score a comedic plus.

Roveto is a sleeper and this movie should have his phone ringing off the wall. Splendid!
Tansino
Tansino
A Wake in Providence was a great escape! How wonderful it was to lose myself in someone else's dysfunctional family for an afternoon at a recent special screening in New York! The performances were heartfelt, funny and very real. The story was well written and involved you from the veryu start! The laughs steady and the pace perfect! I found myself wanting more! The characters were so well developed that it leaves you wanting to follow this family into another adventure. This could be the start of another "Vacation" franchise! An excellent choice for a date or a group of friends! A wake in Providence has the markings of a sleeper hit if ever released nationally.
Undeyn
Undeyn
Came across this Gem and I am Still wondering why? Why Is It in a video Store and not in Theaters. This movie had me laughing so loudly I absolutely Loved it!! Hoping Others will get to see this beaut soon. Everything was great! I thought the acting was great, The Direction was good. The old lady that played the grandmother was a bitch on wheels and I loved her too. Maybe if more people rented this movie maybe it might get released in the theatre. That is what Happened to Reese Silverspoon and her movie Highway With Keifer Sutherland and Brooke Shields!!

Worked for her could do the same for these guys. I certainly will be spreading the word on the film and letting others know about it.
Briciraz
Briciraz
What astounds me is that this movie is sitting in the can, while movies like "Murder By Numbers" are made. This is a simple love story, thrown into complex situations, that confronts racism, family values, loyalty, love, and humor.

Vincent Pagano and Mike Pagano are both very talented actors that need strong direction and a supporting cast to support them, and to carry them where they are lagging, i.e. name recognition. Rumors are abound of their next upcoming picture, "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph." This time around they might hit the nail on the head, if they stay away from "B" television stars that will force it to go STRAIGHT TO VIDEO.