Sebastian Maniscalco’s “About My Father” showcases a sweet relationship between De Niro and Maniscalco, but it’s coated in forgettable comedy and a story we’ve seen too many times.


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Director(s) Laura Terruso
Screenplay By Sebastian Maniscalco & Austen Earl
Based On N/A
Date Released (In Theaters) May 26, 2023
Genre(s) Comedy
Duration 1 hr, 30 mins
Content Rating PG-13
Noted Cast
Sebastian Sebastian Maniscalco
Salvo Robert De Niro
Ellie Leslie Bibb
Tigger Kim Cattrall
Bill David Rasche
Lucky Anders Holm
Doug Brett Dier

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Film Summary

Sebastian Maniscalco is a comedian known for his animated physical comedy and for emphasizing his Italian working-class upbringing. The way Maniscalco contorts his body and stretches out words is a performance art that has garnered him sold-out stadiums and thousands of fans. It was only a matter of time before a movie or show came his way. After 20 years in standup and 10 in the national spotlight, Sebastian Maniscalo’s first movie, “About My Father,” is charming and portrays a more subdued version of his signature comedy.

Sebastian plays Sebastian, a man whose Italian heritage and working-class background have influenced his perspective and ability to embrace life. After he’s invited to his girlfriend Ellie’s family’s house for the Fourth of July, Sebastian sees this as a perfect opportunity to propose to her. There’s only one catch: he wants to use his family ring, and his father (Robert De Niro) will only give it to him if he meets her family first. Ellie (Leslie Bibb) suggests that rather than Sebastian’s father staying home alone on the Fourth of July, he should join her family. Sebastian fears these two different worlds colliding, but Sebastian’s pain and his father’s antics are all for the audience’s entertainment.

about my father
Sebastian Maniscalco as Sebastian and Robert De Niro as Salvo in About My Father. Photo Credit: Dan Anderson

“About My Father” is a story we’ve seen all too often: meeting the in-laws or the in-laws meeting each other as comedy. Even De Niro’s role as a curmudgeon dad was done 20 years ago in “Meet the Parents.” Yet the cast makes “About My Father” pleasant, a movie to have playing during actual family gatherings. There is no cruelty, no real suspicion, and no cynicism created by any character. The comedy comes from how much they care about each other.

The dialogue has its own peppy rhythm, with Maniscalco’s narration resembling his standup the most. Yet the comedy gags that take place (Sebastian panicking on a helicopter, playing tennis, accidentally dropping his swim shorts in front of his in-laws) are usually more noisy than funny. At 90 minutes, “About My Father” is harmless, but because of its strong cast and Sebastian’s comedy, one wishes it would have more of a memorable bite.

Things To Note

Why Is “About My Father” Rated PG-13

  • Dialogue: Surprisingly tame, something you could watch with your grandparents
  • Violence: N/A
  • Sexual Content: Brief nudity of Sebastian’s butt
  • Miscellaneous: A dead peacock
about my father
Ellie (Leslie Bibb) in matching pajamas with her parents (Kim Cattrall and David Rasche)

Character Descriptions

Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.

Sebastian

He is a neurotic, hardworking Italian man whose heritage has shaped his whole life. Sebastian is anxious about the culture clash between his girlfriend Ellie’s family and his own, but he wishes these differences wouldn’t be so evident when his father, Salvo, joins him on a joint family vacation.

Salvo

Sebastian’s father is a recently widowed man. Salvo is not just a hairstylist but an artist with a comb and scissors. He’s made his living cutting hair, and while he’s tough on his son at times, his love for Sebastian is evident. 

Ellie

Sebastian’s positive and welcoming girlfriend, who makes a living selling her art. While she has an upper-class background, she sometimes envies Sebastian’s resourcefulness and independence, which he learned from his tougher upbringing. 

Tigger & Bill

Ellie’s mom and dad, whose wealth is generational. Bill owns a hotel business, and Tigger is a politician who can be seen on many news shows. They love their daughter but sometimes wish to support her to an unhealthy degree. 

Lucky & Doug

Ellie’s two brothers that are on opposite sides of the personality spectrum. Lucky is more of the stereotypical image of a wealthy white man. He constantly pursues a new expensive hobby and excels at whatever he does. Doug personifies “flower child” cliches. He loves kombucha and praying bowls and believes in cleansing someone’s aura. While both brothers are culture shocks to Sebastian and Salvo, they support their sister’s love.

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Anders Holm as Lucky and Brett Dier as Doug in About My Father. Photo Credit: Dan Anderson

Review

Our Rating: Mixed (Divisive)

Highlights

A Likable Cast with Natural Chemistry Between Maniscalco and De Niro

Kim Cattrall, David Rasche, Anders Holm, and Brett Dier deliver what they can in their small roles. One might wish to see this cast improvise more and really punch up the family’s closeness and weirdness, especially Dier, who has unexpected chemistry with De Niro. Leslie Bibb is also so upbeat in her role that the film could have used more time to develop her and Sebastian’s relationship. Yet what the film understandably spends the most time developing is Sebastian and Silvo’s relationship. Maniscalco and De Niro give grounded performances with outbursts that teeter between outrageous and believable. “About My Father’s” most sincere and intriguing moments are when it focuses on the father and son.

On The Fence

Predictable Storyline with Unmemorable Comedy

You know how this movie will end. You know Sebastian and Silvo will make quite a few embarrassing mistakes with one final climatic fine before saying sorry and everything being okay. It’s okay to be predictable. No one has to reinvent the wheel. But the shenanigans meant to entertain and distract us from the predictability are small and restrained. None of the antics surprisingly utilize Sebastian’s physicality either and range from repeated noises (telling Sebastian to “Suck the lemon!”) to ending before they could really get funny (the peacock for dinner scene).

about my father cover
About My Father (2023) – Movie Review and Summary (with Spoilers)
Overall
At 90 minutes, "About My Father" is a brief and breezy comedy, but the actual comedy is lacking for its cast and main star. While the story gets the "family" portion right, the film could have used more risks in story and humor.
Highlights
A Likable Cast with Natural Chemistry Between Maniscalo and De Niro
Disputable
Predictable Storyline with Unmemorable Comedy
70

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