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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


Big Night
Directed by Stanley Tucci
Columbia TriStar 09/96 DVD/VHS Feature Film
R -- language

Big Night is a small-scaled film that holds within its embrace some substantive observations on creativity, the American Dream, sibling differences, and getting ahead.

After leaving the old country, the Pilaggi brothers have started an authentic Italian restaurant called The Paradise on the Jersey Shore in the 1950s. However, their rival, Pascal (Ian Holm), steals most of their business with his give-the customers-what-they-want philosophy. Primo Pilaggi (Tony Shalhoub), who is a master chef, claims "the man should be put in prison for the food he serves," but Secondo (Stanley Tucci), his brother who manages The Paradise, takes Pascal's advice and agrees to host a special meal for entertainer Louis Prima. It may be their last chance to save the restaurant. Primo, who believes that "to eat good food is to be close to God," creates an incredible many-coursed banquet. Secondo, meanwhile, deals with all the details of the big night and fantasizes about finally making it in America.

The snappy screenplay by Tucci and Joseph Tropiano conveys the friction between the Pilaggi brothers and their differing visions of what it takes to keep their dream alive. The last scene in Big Night reveals why the film is so special. It takes the simple act of making eggs and turns it into a profound act of communion between the brothers.

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Reviews and database copyright 1970 2012
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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