Italian Kid Learns He’s Really Black in Cross-Cultural Comedy
When Enzo (Alvaro D’Antonio) and Angelina (Michelle Arvizu) find a baby floating down a river in a basket, they decide to keep the newborn rather than return him to his birth parents, Thelma (Whoopi Goldberg) and George (Paul Mooney), an African-American couple from Baltimore vacationing in Italy. Instead, they name the brown-skinned boy Renato (Donald Faison) and move to the U.S. where they proceed to raise him as their own.
Fast-forward 25 years and we find their adopted son still living at home and working at the family deli. Except for looking a little darker complexioned than his relatives, Renato has turned out to be a typical pasta and Dean Martin-loving Italian, for he has no clue about his true roots. In fact, he’s encountered more flak for being Catholic than black, since he’s in love with Ally (Jamie-Lynn DiScala), a Jewish girl whose parents have a problem with their daughter dating a gentile when they have a nice doctor of her own faith already picked out for her.
Everything changes the day Thelma and George show up out of the blue to reclaim their little Leroy. And at this point, what had been a promising and charming romantic romp rudely morphs into a crude, fish-out-of-water comedy as Renato realizes he’s black and inexplicably feels he now has to try to behave like a black man.
While Homie Spumoni still has its moments, there’s something patently offensive about a flick that chooses to trade in so many superficial stereotypes, from sporting daishikis, bones through noses, shrunken heads, and wielding spears, to employing the N-word, driving a purple Cadillac and eating fried chicken. A narrow-minded film that squanders its potential by adopting a backwards-thinking definition of what it means to be African-American.
Fair (1 star)
Rated R for sexuality, profanity and ethnic slurs.
In English and Italian with subtitles.
Running time: 84 minutes
Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD Extras: Gag reel, plus a featurette entitled “Deep Fried and Covered in Sugar.”