Movie review: A Bronx Tale (1993)

I suspected that this was another one of those movies about the mob. It was and it wasn’t.

Robert De Niro directed and starred in the movie as the father, Lorenzo, of the main character, Calogero. As a long-time bus driver, Lorenzo seeks to be an upstanding role model for his son. Often giving him advice and admonishing him to stay away from the neighborhood bar where mobsters hang out, Lorenzo seemed to be a sole voice for honest living in his neighborhood.

Despite the admonishments, Calogero gets involved with the mobsters. It seems inevitable: they were everywhere and his childhood friends grow up to be hoodlums.

After witnessing the head mobster kill someone in front of him, Calogero comes to the head mobster’s attention. Calogero doesn’t finger Sonny in a police lineup, and their long relationship begins. Sonny takes Calogero under his wing, initiating him into bits and pieces of his life, but Sonny is also concerned with Calogero’s well-being.

Lorenzo naturally does not want Sonny anywhere near his son but is impotent. Ironically, Sonny is constantly advising Calogero to think, not run with his idiot mobster-wannabe friends, and to go to school. He gives him advice on life, on relationships. He is key in helping Calogero come to grips with his desire to date a black woman; in the movie, Italians hate blacks to varying degrees. And in the end, Sonny saves his life.

A Bronx Tale isn’t exactly the typical Italian mobster movie where a young boy gets involved with the mob. The movie is about relations between blacks and whites, about relations between a son and his father, about relations between a boy and a father figure.

Of course, no movie that touches upon the mob would be complete without an appearance by Joe Pesci. Pesci shows up at the end.

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