Big Night, The

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +3

Content: -2

To eat good food is to be close to God says talented chef Primo Pilaggi, and his belief is both a blessing and a curse in this engaging drama set in the 1950s. Primo Pilaggi (Tony Shalhoub) and brother Secondo (Stanley Tucci) are Italian immigrants trying to make their American Dream come true with the Paradise, a Jersey shore restaurant. But Primo is a purist who will only cook authentic Italian cuisine, refusing to Americanize his menu. His determination isn't rewarded, as most people dine at Pascal's, a neighboring Italian eatery catering to American tastes. Secondo also knows that the bank is threatening to foreclose unless payments are made very soon. Ironically, competitor Pascal (Ian Holm) offers a solution. He'll bring his friend, popular Italian-American entertainer Louis Prima, to the Paradise for dinner. The Pilaggis spend their savings on this meal, hoping that Prima's endorsement brings in a flood of new customers. Meanwhile, each deals with an emotional struggle. Secondo dates Phyllis (Minnie Driver), a pretty American, but has a clandestine affair with Pascal's Italian mistress Gabriella (Isabella Rossellini). Primo is interested in Ann (Allison Janney), a florist, but is too shy to pursue her. The brothers also have secrets they are hiding from each other that will have a bearing on the evening's success. Like the marvelous feast Primo creates for the appropriately dubbed Last Supper, BIG NIGHT has many tasty treats. Alternating between humor and heartbreak, it's a captivating story.

Eliminate the verbal preferences of one character and the film's content might have been acceptable. Unfortunately, Pascal has taken to using colorful American obscenities and regular profanities when he speaks in English, particularly the f-word, employed over a dozen times. Secondo keeps his desires in check when he's with Phyllis, although they kiss passionately in his car. But he has an intimate relationship with Gabriella. We see them in bed together and it's implied that they have had sex. When he gets out of bed, there is a flashing glimpse of his buttocks. Large quantities of wine and other alcohol drinks are consumed at the big dinner party, and some of the patrons become intoxicated. In many respects BIG NIGHT is an old-fashioned movie, but deserves its R rating due to the regrettable obscenities.

Preview Reviewer: Mark Perry
The Samuel Goldwyn Company, 10203 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 500, Los Angeles, CA 90067-6403

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Few (3) times - All Moderate

Obscene Language: Many (22) times - F-word 20, s-word 2

Profanity: Many (12) times - Regular 8 (GD 7, J 1), Exclamatory 4

Violence: Once - Moderate (men wrestle during argument)

Sex: Implied once (bedroom scene, brief rear male nudity)

Nudity: Once - very brief male rear nudity

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Man touches woman's clothed breast, passionate kissing

Drugs: Smoking, alcohol drinking (excessive at dinner party)


Running Time:
Intended Audience: Adults

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