It Started in Naples (1960)

 

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It’s thinking in Italian I need to learn.  The younger black sheep brother of American lawyer Michael Hamilton (Clark Gable) has died with his wife in a car crash in Italy so it falls to him to take care of business which includes their eight-year old son Nando (Marietto Angeletti). He decides he will bring the boy back with him to Philadelphia. But when Nando’s gorgeous aunt, Lucia Curcio (Sophia Loren) protests a lengthy and heated custody battle ensues. The boy is a bit of an endearing wiseass and Lucia is a lady of infinitely risque abilities starting with her dancing job at a club. So when he takes charge of the kid who doesn’t want to leave the pigsty he’s living in there are complications not least Michael’s own growing feelings for Lucia … There are a lot of inconsistencies in this film – not the least is the mismatch between the ageing Gable and the very young Loren – and his expanding girth didn’t help:  apparently he developed such a craving for Italian food on location his weight ballooned. Watch him get bigger as the film progresses! However his evolving friendship with Nando, the romance between himself and Lucia which at first seems fake but then it’s not, and the astonishing scenery shot by Robert Surtees make up for a lot. And there’s the chance to see Loren’s mentor the great Vittorio De Sica in the role of her lawyer, not to mention her version of Americano. That and the religious procession reminds me of the scene-setting in The Talented Mister Ripley decades later. The story by Michael Pertwee & Jack Davies was developed as a screenplay by Jack Rose, the legendary Suso Cecchi D’Amico and director Melville Shavelson who does Loren a disservice in the musical sequences. Heck, it’s so pretty! Tu vuo fa americano!

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You Again (2010)

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High school is never over. And as we learned so eloquently from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, it’s Hell. Successful LA PR Marni (Kristen Bell,Veronica Mars take a bow!) is flying back up to Northern California for her brother’s wedding. En route she learns he’s getting hitched to the monstrous Joanna (fka cheerleader JJ) (Odette  Yustman) who bullied her for four years at Ridgefield High. Nobody can connect this latterday Meals on Wheels Mother Teresa act with the picture Marni paints of the years of bullying … until Marni’s mom Gail (Jamie Lee Curtis) meets Joanna’s aunt Mona (fka Ramona), her own high school nemesis and now a Forbes 100 hotel mogul. A series of pratfalls and slapstick sequences unfold including dance training with a go-to wedding planner (a very peppy Kristin Chenoweth) that lead to Marni looking exactly like she did at high school – a four-eyed acne-ridden geek who has to sleep on the couch of her childhood bedroom while Joanna takes over her family even wooing grandma Betty White. An extremely funny comedy of manners and you don’t have to have a sibling married to Satan’s spawn to enjoy it – but it helps. Stick around for the surprises in the final reel and the guest musical spot in the credits.Great fun. Written by Moe Jelline and directed by Andy Fickman.