Ray Romano and Laurie Metcalf in “Somewhere in Queens” 2022. IMDb photo

Are there Italian-American neighborhoods in America anymore? Queens, New York? I don’t think so.

If there are any, Ray Romano, yes, that Ray Romano, the star of the long running “Everybody Loved Raymond,” found one and filled it with a successful, Italian American home repair company of which he is the nicest son of no-nonsense Dominick “Pops” Russo (Tony Lo Bianco) the once great Italian mobster of your childhood.

Our director/writer Ray himself, a great natural comic actor seems to have tried to fill the cast with Italian actors who appear to be sitting around for “Godfather 8” to start casting.

They’re not bad, just working actors stuck with stereotyped dialogue. Listen, it’s hard to get a job these days in Hollywood.

The Russo clan, about 15 of them, more law-abiding working class New Yorkers than the right off the boat Corleone’s who killed other Italians repair bathrooms and kitchen pipes and drive around in nice trucks and respect their mother Angela (Laurie Metcalf) who curses more than they do.

The gang of brothers, too many Italian names to spell here, have little to play other than the spear holding chorus in a Verdi opera, curse at the dinner table and try keeping their toothpicks from falling into the lasagna.


But our flawed hero here is Leo, the really sweet misfit son of papa (Tony Lo Bianco) the head of the family.

Leo, aging and tender, is now in his middle years and sees his son Matthew “Sticks” Russo (Jacob Ward) as the superstar who can go the distance.

Leo, who barely got out of high school where he was a fair to middling basketball player, is now the proud papa of a real superstar ball player in that same high school.

This will be his good-looking son Sticks, the nicest Italian boy since Shakespeare’s Romeo.

As we began, Sticks, in his last game at high school, catches the eye of a sports agent and winds up getting a scholarship to a major school.

Now we meet Sticks girlfriend, Dani (Sadie Stanley), our sweet Romeo’s Juliet, a smart and cute blonde from a better neighborhood, comes to Sunday dinner at the Russo’s home and sits with Leo’s plumbing Mafia.


Imagine a 2024 Diane Keaton an A-student cheerleader at a tabled full of Sonny Corleone’s, who likes the back seat of Stick’s car.

Mama Russo dislikes Dani straight away and so do we, just not as much.

I thought I had the ending in my pocket but I was wrong and it’s a soft landing in a world of hard ones.

So why did I stay so long at the game? Because I like Ray Romano, and Jacob Ward, and so do you. And I want everybody back in Hollywood to pick up an honest buck in a tough world. Don’t you?

“Somewhere in Queens” streams on Hulu and Prime Video.


J.P. Devine of Waterville is a former stage and screen actor.

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