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VOD Review: Team Marco

November 20, 2020

By John Corrado

★★½ (out of 4)

A grandfather and grandson bond over bocce in Team Marco, a simple but charming family movie that is being released digitally this week and serves as a fine viewing option for families looking for something made outside the studio system.

The lead character is Marco (Owen Vaccaro), an adolescent kid who is glued to his iPad. When we first meet him in the opening scene, he is in the backseat of a limo being taken to his grandma’s funeral, and barely even looking up from the tablet, much to the annoyance of his Nonno (Anthony Patellis).

When Nonno, an Italian-American man in his mid-70s who is still as spirited as ever, accidentally sets fire to his kitchen and is left without a home, his daughter Anna (Anastasia Ganias) invites him to live with her and Marco. At first, Marco is horrified at having to share his room, and doesn’t welcome the distraction from his video games.

Nonno’s arrival upends Marco’s plans to spend the summer getting to the hundredth level of Atomic Rick, a game that his absentee father (Louis Cancelmi) created. Nonno’s passion lies in the centuries old game of bocce, which he spends his mornings playing with a group of older Italian men. Perturbed by Marco’s tech obsessions and lack of friends, Nonno makes him a deal; he will let the boy play with his electronics uninterrupted, if Marco agrees to come play bocce with him and his friends.

The film serves as the feature directorial debut of Julio Vincent Gambuto and his Boro Five production company. It was independently financed, which is a rarity for a live action family film, and shot entirely on location on Staten Island, where the story takes place. The film even features three real members of the Staten Island Bocce Club in background roles. It was clearly a labour of love, and the biggest thing that can be said about Team Marco is that this is a very sweet-natured film that I found thoroughly pleasant to watch.

Sure, it’s kind of corny at times and some of the jokes are a bit stale, with the generational clash stuff between Nonno and Marco not understanding any of each other’s references feeling like it’s been done before. But by the end, Team Marco is also genuinely charming and sweet, offering a pretty valuable if somewhat obvious message about not being too focused on screens and actually living life.

Team Marco is now available to rent and buy on a variety of digital and VOD platforms. It’s being distributed in Canada by Vortex Media.

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