“Somewhere in Queens” is Sentimental, Slight, Sweet and Unapologetically Earnest

Everybody Loves Raymond is, for my money, one of the greatest sitcoms of all time. Between the interplay of the characters, the relatability and quality of the writing, to the exceptionally well chosen cast (especially the late Peter Boyle and Doris Roberts), the laughs were always predictably huge and genuine. Now, Ray Romano has made his first feature film, and he’s very much staying in his own lane.

Somewhere in Queens follows Leo (Romano), who works for the family business, a construction company owned by his Italian American family, one day to be passed down to him, and then his son Matthew (Jacob Ward). He’s married to Angela (Laurie Metcalf), his high school sweetheart who has had it up to here with just about everyone. Matthew is deciding whether or not he wants to stay at home and work for the family business, or accept a scholarship for basketball which would remove him from the family unit and force everyone to figure out their own lives.

Somewhere in Queens is an interesting case study because it shows how much of Raymond stemmed from Romano’s own experiences, but also shows you how out of touch he is now, as a 60-something parent. I think Somewhere in Queens knows this and he’s self-aware enough at this point in the game to know what this film will look like in today’s cinematic landscape. It’s very simple and very sweet, but there’s not a whole lot there beneath the surface.

Somewhere in Queens. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Roadside Attractions

It’s a movie about fathers and sons and the concept of legacy, but nothing horrible ever happens to anybody and nobody is forced to tackle any really difficult questions. Angela is a cancer survivor who fears she may be getting sick again. The construction company is working for a beautiful widow (Jennifer Esposito) and Leo is worried he might become tempted to cheat on his wife. But these are momentary plot occurrences that never become the focus. The film comes close to going into more dangerous waters, but then it doesn’t. There’s an interesting beginning of a story that wonders if the son might be suffering from clinical depression. But as any Italian family might, this subplot is abandoned because these aren’t the kind of people who go to therapy.

The performances are uniformly great. Romano is, like I said, staying very much in his own lane and he’s been playing this kind of character off and on, for his entire career. Metcalf is also really great as the headstrong wife who is very much set in her ways, but is also beginning to question her life choices and the woman she’s become. Sadie Stanley plays Danielle, Matthew’s girlfriend who’s got a ton of personality and is very opinionated but becomes conflicted about their relationship. She has a strong screen presence, I liked her a lot. The rest of the cast is full of character actors Romano has worked with before.

This is a very simple, earnest, sweet story that wears its heart on its sleeve. I’m leaning back and forth between ‘that was very nice’ and ‘that was a little underwhelming’. It’s the kind of movie I would have gone to see with my grandma and afterward she would say “that was cute.” And it’s all very heartfelt and sometimes quite funny. But it’s not too deep, it’s never overwhelmingly emotional or laugh out loud funny. It’s kind of a slice of life movie that would be a lovely movie to watch at home after a few glasses of red and a plate of spaghetti and meatballs. But I wouldn’t say it needs to be seen on a big screen. Overall, your enjoyment may vary here depending on your enjoyment of Romano’s brand. But it earns a just-good-enough recommendation from me.

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