The Rizzos are an average family -- two parents, two kids -- who make their home on City Island, an old fishing town in the Bronx. The patriarch, Vince (Andy Garcia), is a New York State corrections officer with dreams of being an actor. His wife, Joyce (Julianna Margulies), is a beautiful but aging housewife and mother who laments the education she lost when she became pregnant with her daughter, Vivian (Dominik García-Lorido, Andy Garcia's real-life daughter), now college age. And then there's Vinnie (Ezra Miller), a skinny 15-year-old master of the smart-ass remark.
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City Island is not one of those no-laughs, black-to-the-bone family comedies like Noah Baumbach's Margot at the Wedding. This movie actually plays toxic dysfunction for quick and easy giggles. When City Island works, it's thanks to the strong ensemble cast and writer/director Raymond De Felitta's nice, light touch. But Felitta, the 45-year-old, NYC-born filmmaker who also helmed 2005's The Thing About My Folks, glosses over some of the deep hurt that should be part of the story. And so, ultimately, City Island is a charming, if not entirely realistic, movie about a big, messed-up modern family.