Review by Sean Boelman
These days, every sport seems to be getting its own straight-faced movie, even the obscure ones, so why not bocce ball? Julio Vincent Gambuto’s Team Marco takes a familiar story and adds some rolling balls and a few laughs, allowing it to be a sweet if mostly forgettable addition to the family comedy genre.
The film follows a young tech-addicted teenager whose life is changed forever when his elderly grandfather moves in, but they soon bond over bocce ball, teaching them each lessons about life. It’s a mixture of a generation gap story with sports comedy tropes, without much of a creative spin on either, but it’s still charming even if it only just meets the narrative lowest common denominator.
It takes far too long for the movie to get moving, the first twenty minutes wasted establishing a storyline about the protagonist’s absent father that is never really developed and his grandfather’s grief over becoming a widower, which is mostly ignored. But when bocce enters the frame, the film starts to become legitimately fun.
A lot of the emotional beats in the movie feel forced. This is especially the case when it comes to the third act, which is extremely rushed. That said, you can clearly tell that the writers’ hearts are in the right place and that they are just trying to provide wholesome, uplifting family entertainment, and in that regard, it succeeds.
Anthony Patellis is the film’s standout as the endearingly old-school grandfather. He’s really charming, and while the role doesn’t demand much in terms of range, he is able to pull off the comedic shouting quite well. He also does a great job sharing the screen with young actor Owen Vaccaro, whose performance isn’t as memorable, but still solid.
The movie is quite heavy-handed when it comes to its themes. It frequently feels as if this was written by a grumpy old man who has a personal vendetta against video games and an overwhelming nostalgia that creates an unhealthy nostalgia for him to return to the “less complicated” days of his childhood.
Also frustrating is the fact that Gambuto isn’t able to film the bocce scenes in an effective way. Admittedly, bocce isn’t the most cinematic of sports. But rather than finding a way to shoot it to create suspense and excitement, Gambuto decides to skip through a lot of these scenes with montages, creating a huge missed opportunity.
Even though Team Marco doesn’t add anything particularly new to its straightforward story, it's good enough fun for what it is. It may not be as intriguing as a bocce ball sports comedy should be, but it’s a solid family comedy.
Team Marco hits VOD on November 20.
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