(director/writer: Matthew Bonifacio; screenwriter: Carmine Famiglietti; cinematographer: William M. Miller; editor: Jim Rubiro; music: Carlo Giacco; cast: Carmine Famiglietti (Neil Perota), Lou Martini Jr. (Anthony Lanzo), Susan Varon (Connie Perota), Fil Formicola (Lou Perota), Sharon Angela (Theresa Perota), Michael Aronov (Sacco), Miriam Shor (Lara), Sophia Antonini (Deidre), Eric Leffler (Lee Dawkins), Patrick Michael Buckley (Vito); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Cesar Baez/Carmine Famiglietti/Matthew Bonifacio; Falco Ink.; 2004)
An inspirational Marty-like pic that flattens out as it delivers its ‘accept yourself’ message about a compulsive over eater.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An inspirational Marty-like pic that flattens out as it delivers its ‘accept yourself’ message about a compulsive over eater, but has enough fat on it to be a keeper. Director Matthew Bonifacio (“Amexicano”)is co-writer with the film’s star Carmine Famiglietti, whose good-natured, believable and humorous performance is key to the film’s success. The film was shot over the course of 27 months. It tracks the 305 pound Carmine as he has much difficulty losing 100 pounds.

Mama’s boy, overweight, food addicted, virgin, and affable 27-year-old Neil Perota (Carmine Famiglietti) lives a comfortable life in his parents’ (Fil Formicola & Susan Varon) Brooklyn private house. Two days before his older sister Theresa’s (Sharon Angela) wedding, he suffers a heart attack while on the job driving a school bus filled with children. He gets fired despite none of the children being harmed.

Later humiliated by the groom (Lou Martini Jr.) for messing up the $50,000 wedding (canceled until Neil recovered, but now only a simple backyard barbecue in the rain), pampered by his possessive doting mom, indulged by his easy going dad, the confused fatty goes upstate and ends up buying a dilapidated trailer in the middle of the woods.Neil wants to change his life and feels its best getting away from home cooking and all the great neighborhood restaurants he frequents by living in isolation.

We follow Carmine for a year, as he writes and calls his folks without telling them where he is living; his next door married woman (Miriam Shor) insists that he has sex with her; and his friendly real-estate agent (Eric Leffler) look out for him. The city boy learns to adjust to country life, to exercise daily on a bike and curb his appetite with healthy food. The film’s best scene has Neil in his first week in the country going cold turkey in his woodsy retreat with his best pal from childhood, a hipster talking junkie named Sacco (Michael Aronov). Before Sacco splits, they argue who is looked down upon more and who has the harder habit to kick. Neil vehemently says “It’s harder to be fat than it is to be a drug addict.”

When the slimmed-down Neil returns to Brooklyn after a year as a changed man, the pic optimistically ends with Neil attending an overeaters group and facing up to the reality that his food addiction problem is a life-long project and that he needs help in grappling with it.

You don’t see too many films on food addiction, and this one handles its subject-matter well even if it’s filled with cliches about Italian-American families and fat people.

REVIEWED ON 11/30/2010 GRADE: B-