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Sonny Days (2012)

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Credited cast:
Tom Megalis ...
Chuck Coolenzo
Jozsef Fitos ...
Mayor White
Carl Kurlander ...
Barry Winkle
Danny Rios ...
Jim Krenn ...
Stoner Guy
Ingrid Sonnichsen ...
Dawn Cornelia
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Tony Amen ...
Old Man Mike
Paul Bartek ...
Photographer at River
Ed Bassmaster ...
Martha Boschuk ...
John Chittesten ...
Pittsburgh Fisherman
Terrace Lounge Patron #2


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Release Date:

2012 (USA)  »

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$90,000 (estimated)

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Genuinely Funny
22 March 2014 | by (Pittsburgh) – See all my reviews

Happy to be the first person to comment about this film. It is both a delightfully zany comedy with a talented ensemble of colorful characters and a heartfelt history lesson on the notoriously crime- ridden and poverty-plagued Youngstown, Ohio. It skillfully balances stinging satire of and affectionate tribute to this dying but not- quite-dead-yet former steel town.

The story centers on the four ragtag members of the Youngstown Economic Develop Authority (YEDA) who, desperate for money, seek financial support from the prickly, aging widow of one of Youngstown's most famous and vicious mobsters, Sonny the "Sponge" Sapella. But it wisely doesn't get bogged down with plot (as many Hollywood comedies do). Like the best indie comedies, "Sonny Days" has a loose, improvisational structure that keeps the focus on concept and characterization. And laughs.

The cast is wonderful, major and minor characters sharply defined. Everyone gets a chance to shine, and the film has a winning "Oh, what the heck, let's try this nutty gag" spirit. Kati Lightholder is a hoot as the permanently peeved Sophie, her rotten attitude, doomed body language and bleak outlook perfectly symbolizing Youngstown's decay. (Though with a surprising secret skill revealed over the end credits). James Howard is strong as Mayor White, a former high-school football star who delivers hilariously tone-deaf, can-do campaign speeches in the most inappropriate places.

But the revelation is director and co-writer Tom Megalis, who steals the show as Chuck Coolenzo, Sonny's former henchman and now the heart and soul of YEDA, whose faith in Youngstown could move mountains were it not for his tragic weakness for non sequiturs. Like some kind of demented don't-try-this-at-home hybrid of Joe Pesci and Christopher Penn, his manic, desperate energy drives the film. It's the kind of confident, polished performance that makes you wonder why you haven't seen him in anything else.

"Sonny Days" is a genuinely funny and engaging comedy and highly recommended for fans of the offbeat.

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