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A Wake in Providence (1999)

R  |   |  Comedy  |  15 April 2005 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 207 users   Metascore: 46/100
Reviews: 17 user | 4 critic | 6 from

Going back home can be hard, particularly when you come from a traditional Italian family, and especially when the girlfriend you bring back is not Italian. But the roof caves in when she's... See full summary »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mike Pagano ...
Aunt Lidia
Lisa Raggio ...
Kaye Kingston ...
Gram Baldassarre
Louis Guss ...
Uncle Guy
Aunt Elaine
Uncle Joe
Magda Harout ...
Aunt Alma
John Capodice ...
Uncle Sal


Going back home can be hard, particularly when you come from a traditional Italian family, and especially when the girlfriend you bring back is not Italian. But the roof caves in when she's African American. This is the problem that Anthony faces when he brings Alissa from Los Angeles to his boyhood home of Providence, Rhode Island to attend his grandfather's funeral. Written by Weissman/Delson Communications (with permission)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and some sexual content




Release Date:

15 April 2005 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$32,018 (USA) (15 April 2005)


$402,805 (USA) (17 February 2006)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



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Did You Know?


References Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) See more »


Cara Mia
Performed by Jay and the Americans
Courtesy of EMI Capitol
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User Reviews

A Wake in Providence
26 July 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

One of those movies that makes me wonder who is at the helm on in Hollywood. Why hasn't this hit Major theaters??? 90% of the comedies promoted out of Hollywood and onto the "Big" screen since 1999 do not come close to the hilarity of this film. Kudos to the director and actors! Demerit to the producers and promoters. Someone that is close to this film needs to get a move on hiring people capable of moving it into the mainstream. It would be a shame if more people with a taste for true comedic talent were not exposed to this film. Give me the job! Give a child the job! Do something! For those of you who haven't been given the chance to see this movie here is a quick review..

"A Wake in Providence" has been sitting around since 1999, giving it a whiff of failure it doesn't deserve. Held from distribution for years by a legal battle, it turns out to be a pretty decent comedy of manners.

The story of an Italian American (Vincent Pagano) who surprises his family by bringing an African American girlfriend (Victoria Rowell) to his grandfather's wake, this picture tackles race relations more honestly than the sanitized "Guess Who." Here, relatives of the young man, Anthony, are shocked by his girlfriend, Alissa, and they say so.

Anthony's grandmother (Kaye Kingston, shot by director Rosario Roveto Jr. with a fishbowl lens that makes her look fearsome) tells Alissa that she's not Italian and therefore not welcome. Another relative asks that everyone at the dinner table vote on whether to accept Alissa - with Alissa sitting there.

Yet "A Wake in Providence," within its broad depiction of Italian Americans, dispels trite notions about this family and families in general. For instance, everyone fears the reaction of Anthony's stereotypically overbearing Italian mother (Lisa Raggio), who pulls her two grown sons by their ears by way of greeting. But she's not worried about Alissa's race, pointing out that Africa is just across the water from Sicily.

Rowell brings a hint of grit to a character who at first seems too perfect to be believed, a la Sidney Poitier's character in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner." Alissa accuses Anthony of being ashamed of their relationship. She's more upset that he didn't tell his relatives about her than she is about their reactions.

Pagano, who co-wrote the script with his brother, Mike, along with Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore, allows his character to be less than heroic and even a bit of a bubblehead about matters of diversity. But he's never quite as appealing as his brother, who also appears in the film.

Playing Anthony's green-grocer brother, Mike Pagano is an exciting, emotionally accessible presence, crafting a character who is more complicated than he seems. You almost wish the brothers' roles had been reversed.

The lighting is warm and inviting, especially when it's Adrienne Barbeau being lit. As Anthony's liberal-minded aunt, Barbeau combines good-humored wisdom with well-seasoned beauty.

The film offers amusing cultural critics outside the family in the characters of a cabbie and his wife (Mark DeCarlo and co-screenwriter Milmore) who give Anthony rides and advice. The taxi driver recalls defending his non-Italian wife to his Italian mother: "Yes, she's done time in the pen ... yes, she has a sewer mouth ... but she loves me."

By Carla Meyer -- The Sacramento Bee

Find me Carla Meyer so I can marry her!!!!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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