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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.

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