Friendly Rating: Genuinely for all ages
Safety Rating: Lots of slapstick humor and borderline on the stereotypes
Quality Rating: Lots and lots of fun
Special movie airs tonight (5/27) on Nickelodeon at 8 p.m.
Watched Disney XD’s Marvel Avengers Assemble (preview airing 5/26 at 11 a.m., actual premiere 7/7), their latest super-hero incarnation. Was bored to tears, never mind all the booming and blasting.
Watched Nickelodeon’s Sanjay and Craig (premiering 5/25 at 10:30 a.m.) about a boy and his talking snake, with its male-dominated cast and gross-out humor and realized that SpongeBob SquarePants was more intellectual. Seriously, there are some good bits at the beginning with his mom, a nurse, who delights in telling her son all the gross things that happened at work because it delights him. But otherwise, the show simply does not make sense and isn’t funny enough to get away with it.
So you can imagine my reluctance when I put on Nicky Deuce, Nickelodeon’s movie about a sheltered teen who discovers the family he never knew he had. It was so freaking fun and cute and just delightful. It is how you do slapstick humor.
Starring Sopranos alumnus Steve Schirripa, and based on the book he co-wrote with Charles Fleming, Nicholas Borelli II (Noah Munck) is growing up in the Mid-West, sheltered by the most boring parents ever. His mother cooks super-healthy, but tasteless food. His father overdoes the hand sanitizer. When Nicky’s parents are called away overseas and Nicky’s plans to attend math camp go awry (with some actual toilet humor done well), Nicky gets sent to Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York, to stay with Tutti (Rita Moreno), his father’s grandmother and his Uncle Frankie (Schirripa), who has got more than a little funny business going on.
At first, a fish out of water, Nicky not only learns how to fit into his new environment, he toughens up as he discovers his roots.
Now, there are some who might find some of the mobster stereotypes uncomfortable, and the Black kid does get to be the buffoon – although another White kid does the same. Not to mention the Italian grandma stereotype – Tutti is fast with that wooden spoon. It really is walking that very fine line between making fun of and celebrating a culture.
Nonetheless, it is so fun and cute. Munck is adorable. The writing moves well and if you’re a Sopranos fan, Schirippa obviously called in a few favors because several members of that cast show up, including James Gandofini, who plays a guy who gets his backside inadvertently kicked when Nicky comes by to collect for the bad guy. And there are the in-jokes, including Nicky’s astonishment that someone actually says fuh-geddaboudit.
With bits like that, there’s a little something here for everyone. As I often note, making something that is truly for the entire family is amazingly tough, which is why my hat is off to the crew that put this one together. They succeeded on all levels.