My Father, My Don (2014) – By Philip Smolen

Tony ‘Nap’ Napoli (Johnny Thurzday) is the son of mob boss James ‘Jimmy Nap’ Naopli (David Francis Calderazzo), a high ranking member of the New York Genovese crime family. Tony grows up in his father’s shadow and does whatever he wants. He steals what he wants, beats up whom he wants and generally acts like a privileged brat. Then one day he beats up a police captain in a New Jersey town, and his father has to call in a favor from a judge in order to save his son. So the father banishes Tony from the East Coast. Tony goes west and settles in New Mexico where he quickly uses his talents in crime to his advantage. But Tony falls in love with a barmaid named Laura (Mira Tzur) who wants to see him go clean. They move back east and get married, but without the blessings of Tony’s father. But even without his approval, Tony and Laura’s love sees them through the tough years, and Tony is eventually able to break free of organized crime and clean up his act.

“My Father, My Don” is a 27 minute short film from producers Nathan Todaro and Nathaniel Spencer (no writing or directing credits for the film are given). Based on a book by Napoli, it is a true story of one man’s attempts to break free of his criminal past. Tony loves his father, but fails to understand how to earn his father’s respect. He is saved by the true love of a good woman who stays by his side no matter what.

Unfortunately, the film doesn’t add anything new to the genre of mob movies and relies on the types of scenes we’ve all seen in this type of film many times. You’ve got your tough talk, the hard drinking, the sudden beatings, the colorful slow motion montages, and, of course, Frank Sinatra songs playing in the background. Also, it’s very tough to like Tony when the first thing he does in the film is castrate a college boy who felt up his daughter.

Because the film is rushed, it fails to answer the many questions that are bought up. Why does Tony act like such a privileged punk if he loves his father so much? Why does Tony’s father constantly treat him like dirt if he’s a good earner for the family? If his father banished him from the East Coast, then how does Tony get back in the Genovese family’s good graces, but not in his father’s? Why is Tony at an AA meeting and not in prison after he has castrated the college boy?

The film is professionally made and is generally pleasing, but it’s a shame that it doesn’t reveal enough of Tony’s motivations. As it stands, “My Father, My Don” is a comfortably familiar mob movie that fails to shed a stronger light on the behavior of its main character.

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