Anthony LaPaglia of WITHOUT A TRACE stars as Frank Pesce, the $6.2 million winner of the first New York State Lottery. Unfortunately, Frank is also a full-time dreamer cursed with a lifetime of great luck, a bickering Ital... more »ian-American family, and a love-hate relationship with his loser gambler father, Frank Sr. (Oscar® nominee Danny Aiello of DO THE RIGHT THING and MOONSTRUCK). But when Frank Jr. makes a deal with local mobsters, will his lottery prize be his unluckiest break ever? Fuhgeddaboutit! The biggest jackpot of all may be waiting for Frank and his father among the good guys, bad guys and wiseguys of 29th STREET. Lainie Kazan (MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING), Oscar® nominee Robert Forster (JACKIE BROWN), Tony Sirico (Paulie Walnuts of THE SOPRANOS) and Frank Pesce himself co-star in this acclaimed comedy written and directed by George Gallo, the screenwriter of MIDNIGHT RUN.« less
"Frank Pesce, although he has no reason to be, is upset. Frank just learned he won the first drawing of the New York State Lottery, netting himself a whopping six million dollars. But Frank leaves the lottery drawing without claiming the prize, then goes to a church and begins to throw snowballs at the building while lashing out at God. Cut to the local police station, where Frank begins to tell his story to the local cops, and what a story it is. Thus begins the movie "29th Street," arguably one of the best films of the 1990's, and one of the least known. Starring such well-known actors as Danny Aiello, Anthony LaPaglia, and Lainie Kazan, this movie is both hilarious and touching in its depiction of a working class Italian family in 1970's New York. The problem for Frank Pesce is his lucky curse. From the day he was born, Frank repeatedly gets a lucky break in life. Frank gets out of bad situations due to luck; he wins at dice because of his luck; he cannot ditch a car for the insurance money because of his luck. Even worse, Frank's luck often has negative consequences for those around him, especially his father Frank, Sr. Frank, Jr. has no problem landing a job with local hoods for some quick cash while his father loses his trucking company and eventually his job driving a truck. Frank, Jr. wins at dice while his father is the archetypical chronic loser at any type of gambling. This lucky/unlucky dichotomy creates serious tensions between father and son, bleeding over into relations within the family.And what a family! The story really digs deep for ethnic humor while revealing a family that lives at the top of its lungs on a daily basis. This might be upsetting if it was not so funny. A discussion about the weather at the dinner table turns into a profanity laced shouting match. An argument about the cost of pizza turns into a running joke throughout the rest of the movie. But the funniest scenes of the film, without a doubt, involve the efforts of the Pesce men to, shall we say, profit from the "loss" of a car. By the end of these scenes, you will find yourself roaring with laughter. I am not embarrassed at all to say I laughed so hard I cried numerous times during the film.At the same time, the film poignantly shows the hardships of working class life. When Frank's father loses his company and his job, we see the adverse effects on the family and how it affects Frank, Sr. The whole business with the lottery ticket leads to painful confrontations that are not only unfunny, but also tough to watch due to the intensity of the performances. The seemingly permanent break between father and son does have a silver lining, as we see both Frank and his father prove their love for one another on the night of the lottery drawing. Ultimately, that is what this movie is about: the importance of family above all else.The overarching beauty of this film is Danny Aiello's performance as Frank Pesce, Sr. The sheer power of his performance shrieks Oscar, and his facial expressions and hilarious outbursts are spectacular to watch. You feel the pathos of Aiello's character in every onscreen movement, with every glance and word. Of course, all the other actors do a great job. The real Frank Pesce does a good turn as Frank's policeman brother."29th Street" is ripe for a DVD release. Do not be put off by the slightly cheesy Capraesque cover. This great movie deserves more attention than it currently receives. It is largely due to this film that I became a big fan of Danny Aiello, but I'm not sure he will ever top the performance he gives in this dandy picture."
A Refreshing film...for a change!
Joel Munyon | Joliet, Illinois - the poohole of America. | 08/15/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I really enjoyed this film, having watched it on Bravo at about two in the morning. It is well acted and has one of the finest stories in recent history. It has a satisfying ending that will leave you smiling from ear to ear. In this film we get to see an Italian family living in New York. One of the sons, along with his father, enters his name into a multi-million dollar lottery and is selected as one of the fifty finalists. He is seemingly having one lucky occurence after another. His father, however, is having money troubles and when a local mobster offers to buy the ticket from the son for $10,000, the son accepts. The mobster, hoping to be the finalist, is eager to take his chances and see if the ticket will win him the large sum of money. That's when the best part of the film sets in. You'll just have to watch to see what happens next. You will love this delightful and heart-warming film about some basic and simple people in New York and their fantastic tale of family and loyalty."
As good as it gets
C. Marra | 01/20/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of my top 3 favorite movies of all time. I never get tired of watching it. The acting is so good that you believe they are not acting. Danny Aiello is brilliant. I feel like I grew up with these people. The relationships that are depicted are increadably touching.I find it unbeilable that a movie of this quality is so unknown. I was very pleasantly supprised to read the reviews of the others who reviewed the movie and that inspired me to write my own review. I am glad to see that other people besides me and my family appreciate it's greatness. This one is not to be missed."
A Fantastic Film In Every Sense Of The Word
purerockfury | Chicago, IL | 10/31/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Where does one begin on such an extraordinary movie? 29th Street has everything; comedy, drama, fantastic acting, memorable characters, Christmas, the mafia and the most amazing part is that not one iota of it is forced or crammed inside to attract a certain demographic. Every character and scenario plays off each other in a seemingly natural manner and the end result is a movie that has you laughing throughout and has you at near tears towards the end. It's the film equivalent of watching a real family deal with their problems and triumphs.First, the story revolves around Frank Pesce, an ambitious kid with huge dreams of being known for something remarkable. The problem lies in his lack of wanting to make it happen and more or less wanting it to fall in his lap. He basically skates though life unscathed after a series of very near misses, ranging from his getting stabbed in a bad neighborhood actually being the event that saves his life from a deadly disease to butting heads with a dangerous mafia don in an attempt to save his unlucky father's neck from being put on the chopping block. Amidst all of the chaos that he seems to shrug his shoulders at, he purchases a lone lottery ticket for the first New York State Lottery along with a cheap pair of binoculars from a second hand store so he can cash a measly check and ends up becoming one of the finalists while his unlucky father collects them for months and comes up short.The acting is comprised of stars that get little by way of mainstream recognition but any true film fan will profess their undying admiration for them. The unambitious kid turned umbitious adult is masterfully portrayed by Anthony LaPaglia who has to this day become a major star but was more than deserving after this film. Danny Aiello, who already tops my list of greatest actors to ever walk the Earth, turns out my absolute favorite character ever in Frank Pesce Sr., the unlucky father who; despite being overworked and underpaid, remains optimistic that one day, everything will work out for the best. His simple wants and needs in life is a stark contrast to the overindulgent world we live in and his range of emotion is as powerful and believable as they are unmatched by the majority of Hollywood's hacks that get much more underserved recognition. Lani Kazaan is the ying to Danny Aiello's yang as Mrs. Pesce and she has the frustrated mother who outwardly protests being the homemaker on the surface but underneath it all, loves her husband and family more than enough to play that role and do it well down path. Like the rest of the main characters, her character feels so real that you want to reach into your television and touch them.Being not-quite-a-drama and not-quite-a-comedy without a lot of physical "action", the dialogue is left to really move the story forward and the absolutely flawless script flows from each character's mouth so effortlessly that it's almost nauseating that this film never won an Academy Award. Never before have I watched a film not directed by Martin Scorsese have I been floored how the words add so much color to the overall piece. You cannot help but laugh at the frankness of evrey word spoken, especially if you have an ounce of Italian blood in you. It's almost like being at a family reunion.If you EVER get the opportunity to rent or buy this movie, do so. Calling it a mesh of "Goodfellas" and "It's A Wonderful Life" hits the nail on the head with deadly accuracy. You will feel equally at home watching this during an at-home mafia movie fest or after unwrapping gifts on Christmas."
BEST KEPT SECRET IN HOLLYWOOD!
Paul Braoudakis | Barrington, IL USA | 12/14/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Everytime I mention this movie, no one has ever heard of it. This astounds me because it's one of the best pictures out there! This thing is a gem. I've watched it more than 10 times and I never tire of it. You're cheating yourself if you don't see this movie. Run, don't walk, to your nearest video store and get this movie!"