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TEAM MARCO: A SENTIMENTAL SLEEPER

I am a relative latecomer to Team Marco, which has played at 54 film festivals around the globe and won the Audience Award as Favorite Family Film in Mill Valley. It becomes available on digital platforms this weekend.

Julio Vincent Gambuto’s debut feature could be dismissed as formulaic and overly sentimental—but only by misanthropes. It’s a life-affirming feel-good movie about an 11-year-old boy who’s addicted to video games and his 76-year-old Italian-American grandfather, who introduces him to bocce and the rewards of fresh air and friendship.

Owen Vaccaro plays the boy, who’s being raised by a single mother, and Anthony Patellis is his “nonno,” a bombastic sort of guy who doesn’t know (or care to know) about electronic devices. There isn’t much suspense as to where this story is headed, but the journey is richly entertaining, in part because the actors are so fully committed to their characters.

The filmmaker grew up in Staten Island and the neglected borough of New York City is prominently showcased. In fact, Gambuto has named his production company Boro Five. The closing credits include a long list of investors, friends, and local businesses that helped make the film a reality.

Cynics have plenty of other options for entertainment. I thoroughly enjoyed this picture and found myself wiping away tears at the end.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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