The Moya View

Somewhere in Queens: Getting Beyond the Sticks

Courtesy Roadside Attractions/Lions-gate

Plot via Rotten Tomatoes

Leo Russo (Ray Romano) lives a simple life in Queens, New York with his wife Angela (Laurie Metcalf), their shy but talented son “Sticks” (Jacob Ward), and Leo’s close-knit network of Italian-American relatives and neighborhood friends. Happy enough working at the family construction business alongside his father (Tony Lo Bianco) and younger brother (Sebastian Maniscalco), Leo lives each week for Sticks’ high-school basketball games, never missing a chance to cheer on his only child as he rules the court as a star athlete. When the high-school senior gets a surprising and life-changing opportunity to play basketball in college, Leo jumps at the chance to provide a plan for his future, away from the family construction business. But when sudden heartbreak threatens to derail Sticks, Leo goes to unexpected lengths to keep his son on this new path.

Any movie that adopts a particular movie as a life guide gets my movie fan attention immediately. I like to compare my knowledge of the movie with those of the characters. In Somewhere in Queens, the smart and congenial directorial debut of Ray Romano of Everybody Loves Raymond fame, it’s the Rocky franchise. Not being an overt Rocky fan, I did just ok.

Courtesy Roadside Attractions/Lions-gate

Whenever dad Leo (Romano) needs an aphorism to encourage his shy basketball talented son he quotes the Stallone classic. Sex talk- Rocky had something to say about it. Encouragement. Rocky knows it. Success in failure. Rocky defined it with style. Rocky is the Jesus for the midlife crisis set. Each bruise and Stallone mumble is the new mantra.

Courtesy Roadside Attractions/Lions-gate

There is no church, just an event venue proxy— the Versaille Palace- a movie budget friendly alternative for whenever a wedding, anniversary, birth is plot required.  For actual Sunday multigenerational family gatherings Leo’s humble abode will suffice. Pasta, meatballs, playful and profane insults are the stuff of life.   They also work and own a construction company like all true movie Italian  families. 

Courtesy Roadside Attractions/Lions-gate

Expectations and the way life subverts them is Somewhere in Queens main theme. There are no game winning three points winning shots. Just the talent that almost get the wins. The sweet boy who almost gets the girl. If she is willing to commit to love and life instead of wanderlust. The big scholarship that awaits if he really wants it. The constant striving to break free, but never quite doing it. Almost is nothing and everything in this movie’s life.

Romano as Leo is charming. His performance is self-deprecating, a quality that gets echoed in Jacob Ward’s performance as Sticks, Leo’s son. If you listen and look just a little, you’ll see the weaker passive aggressive patois and character development that made Everybody Loves Raymond an underrated gem, and that brought a new emotional honesty to television sitcoms. Everyone of the cast is on top of their game delivering the comedy and drama balance that makes it feel real.

Courtesy Roadside Attractions/Lions-gate

Somewhere in Queens by subverting it’s dramatic cliches ends up giving what the audience wants: something recognizable, honest and real.

Somewhere in Queens gets a 3.5 out of 5 or a B+.


Directed by

Ray Romano

Written by

  • Ray Romano
  • Mark Stegemann

Produced by



Maceo Bishop

Edited by

Robert Nassau

Music by

Mark Orton


  • Papa Al Productions
  • Bonafide Productions

Distributed by

Release dates

  • June 10, 2022 (Tribeca)
  • April 21, 2023 (United States)


United States



Courtesy Roadside Attractions/Lions-gate





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