Friends and Family

by Barbara Ashcraft

Friends and Family

Starring: Greg Lauren, Christopher Gartin, Tony LoBianco, Tovah Feldshuh, Tony Polito, Anna Maria Albergetti
87 minutes, released in 2001, rated NR (but inappropriate for children)
directed by Kristen Coury

“The willful suspension of disbelief” is a very necessary ingredient to watch Friends and Family and you’d better take a double dose while you’re at it. Best described as The Godfather meets Las Cage Aux Folles pretty much describes it, although it is broadly played for humor and hilarious hi-jinks. As light as an almost perfect soufflé, this frothy comedy marries gay life and The Mafia.

Stephen (Greg Lauren) and Danny (Christopher Gartin) are a gay couple who work as enforcers for a New York Mafia family. Stephen’s parents, who know he is gay but not that he works for the mafia (they think he is in the catering business), decide to pay a surprise visit. And in the middle of all of this, we are told that Stephen’s dad is an FBI agent! This sends the boys into a panic and scrambles their lives.

The mob boss hires these two charming fellows to do his dirty work because his straight sons want to be a decorator and chef, respectively. What’s a godfather to do? Don’t worry, none of this is taken seriously in this pleasantly absurd comedy. At one point, Stephen tells Danny, “Just remember… this is Judy and Mickey put on a show time”, an obvious reference to the screwball comedies of the 1940’s starring Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney.

What I liked about this film:

There may not have been any man on man action, but I think the looks the boys gave each other said all it needed to; they were very much in love and devoted to each other. I loved the premise that they were far more concerned about the folks finding out about their occupation than their sexual orientation. I say rent this if you feel like having a chuckle or two without a bunch of complications and deep thinking.

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