Deliciously cute, Donald Petrie’s film is as heartwarming  as it is funny – making it a recipe for success. 

It would be fair to say that it is difficult to get a good romantic comedy right these days, to get that perfect combination between comedy, likeable characters and a fresh idea for romance to sweep audiences away is not easy to do. Although Little Italy doesn’t always get it right comedy wise – it does succeed in charming audiences with its story of family, rivalry and pizza.

Emma Roberts and Hayden Christiansen star as Nikki and Leo who were friends from childhood – until one day their fathers had an argument leading to a split between both families. Now as adults can Nikki and Leo take their relationship a step further towards romance or will their parents rivalry tear them apart for good?

Director Donald Petrie is well known for directing films such as ‘How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days’ and ‘Miss Congeniality’ – so it consistently feels as though Little Italy is in safe hands with him. He ensures that the story remains grounded and the audience remains consistently interested in seeing how Nikki and Leo’s relationship grows by keeping the scenes sharp and focused – even if at times the comedy threatens to overtake the believability factor (who honestly could mistake weed for oregano?).

It would be fair to say that Steve Gallucio and Vinay Virmani’s script is relatively predictable (particularly the ending), with comedy that sometimes doesn’t feel particularly fresh – but there is no denying that it still has a charm about it that draws the audience in. The story is a contemporary and softened version of Romeo & Juliet that is as cheesy as the pizzas that are being consistently made in it – but that is exactly how a romantic comedy should be.

Performance wise, Emma Roberts and Hayden Christiansen offer up two immensely likeable characters but both could be developed further had the script and story allowed them to – but their chemistry together is believable and natural. But there are also immensely enjoyable performances from Andrea Martin as Franca and Danny Aiello as Carlo who are having a relationship while trying to hide it from their families.

Watching Little Italy brings to mind box office hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding with its references to a quirky family, a relationship under pressure and tradition. Although this won’t perhaps see the same success as that film – it has that same irresistible charm about it that makes it easy and enjoyable to watch.

Overall, it is a film that is heartfelt, full of irresistible corny moments and a predictable ending that leaves you with a smile on your face despite its flaws.

By Emma Clarendon

Little Italy will be available to watch on UK digital download platforms from 11th March.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

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