Ray Romano gained his fame as a comedian in the ’90s, when his hit TV sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond brought him into the homes of millions each week. On April 21st, 2023, he makes his feature-film directorial debut with Somewhere in Queens, an Italian-American family drama written by Romano and Mark Stegemann, starring Romano and sitcom veteran Laurie Metcalf, from Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions.
Ray Romano is primarily known for Everybody Loves Raymond, but he has dipped his toes in the movies business as well. Most families will recognize his voice from the Ice Age films; however, Romano has recently tried a hat on as a character actor in the Kumail Nanjiani surprise hit The Big Sick and also Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman.
The Queens native writes, directs, and stars in a familiar story for Romano. Leo Russo (Romano) lives a simple life in Queens as a carpenter with his brothers, and he imagines the same secure future for his high school son “Sticks” (Jacob Ward). Laurie Metcalf plays his wife Angela, a role similar to Oscar-nominated performance in Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird. Dramatic tension ensues when the college basketball prospects for Sticks clash with his fizzling high school romance with girlfriend Dani (Sadie Stanley). Metcalf shows her delightful chops as a television, stage, and movie actor in this trailer, rife with sharp remarks and judging stares.
“We call him ‘Sticks’ cuz of the long legs, came outta the chute that way. Just kept growing, still growing,” Romano brays in his native Queens accent, as he’s speaking to a college basketball coach about his son’s prospects. Along with his wife Angela and son Sticks, this scene captures the vibe of Somewhere in Queens. A family looking to do what is best for their son, while cracking jokes along the way.
The focuses on laughs and heart in this familial drama. Romano and Metcalf slide right into their Italian-American accents both for authenticity and part of the humor. Larger family dinners, jokes about meatballs, and brothers working construction embody much of the working-class families in the New York boroughs. Romano carries over this similar formula from his hit TV show, and sharp writing and casting appears to follow in his first stint behind the camera.
Witty jokes follow in almost every setting in the trailer. Basketball gyms, dining room tables, coaching offices, and public settings. Romano balances it out with the dramatic tension. When “Sticks” loses his girlfriend , the resulting depression threatens his athletic future. The trailer uses the Jim Croce song “I Got a Name” as it interweaves short cut scenes of comedic and dramatic plot points to satisfying effect.
The final verdict on Ray Romano’s debut will have to wait to be seen when Somewhere in Queens releases, but I think this trailer gives a promising look. Romano has chosen a solid cast to tell a relatable American working class story. Themes of family, love, heartbreak, sports, and uncertainty work well in this dramedy formula. Picking a setting and style he’s familiar with was a smart choice by Romano. I anticipate it working well for audiences familiar with his work.
Somewhere in Queens releases in theaters April 21st, 2023, presented by Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions. The film is produced by Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa, Ray Romano & Mark Stegemann. Directed by Ray Romano. Written by Ray Romano & Mark Stegemann. Starring Ray Romano, Laurie Metcalf, Tony Lo Bianco, Sebastian Maniscalco, Jennifer Esposito, Jacob Ward, Sadie Stanley, Dierdre Friel & Jon Manfrellotti.