You can see why Martin Scorsese would choose to "present" this small-scale drama about working-class New Yorkers trying to hold onto their piece of the city's past. The Little Italy of the Mean Streets director's youth has been swallowed up by Chinatown at one end and tourist-trapped Nolita at the other. But writer-director Kevin Jordan's second feature (he debuted with 2000's Smiling Fish & Goat on Fire) is slight, shambling stuff that features fine performances but often feels like a holiday with relatives you never much liked.
Christmas is approaching, and pig-headed patriarch Frank Giorgio (Aiello) is on the verge of losing his lobster farm at public auction. Frank's marriage to long-suffering Maureen (Curtin) is drifting apart. His daughter, Lauren (Marisa Ryan), has her hands full with a new baby, keeping her dad's books and temporarily housing her mother. Son Michael (Sauli) is working up the nerve to propose to his girlfriend and doing his best not to get hauled back into the Giorgio family drama. The last straw may be a broken water pipe that threatens all the lobsters currently in stock. Nothing short of a holiday miracle can salvage the situation.
Jordan knows the material: His grandfather was once "the lobster king of New York," and the filmmaker and his brothers made a short documentary about the family business that inspired this feature. But these salt-of-the-earth characters, with their rough-edged loyalty, are all too familiar and their travails feel formulaic, right down to the life-affirming climax.—Maitland McDonagh