The Kings, and Queens, and Princes of Queens (CREDIT: Roadside Attractions)

Starring: Ray Romano, Laurie Metcalf, Jacob Ward, Sadie Stanley, Tony Lo Bianco, Sebastian Maniscalco, Jennifer Esposito, Dierdre Friel, Jon Manfrellotti

Director: Ray Romano

Running Time: 107 Minutes

Rating: R for Family Members Yelling at Each Other and Horny Teenagers

Release Date: April 21, 2023 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: Leo Russo (Ray Romano) is just a regular guy living in Queens, New York. Almost every single one of his waking hours is spent with his boisterous Italian-American family, whether it’s their regular Sunday dinner, the latest wedding or christening, or the construction jobs alongside his dad (Tony Lo Bianco), brother (Sebastian Maniscalco), and nephews. The only time he really perks up nowadays is when he watches his son Matthew, nicknamed “Sticks” (Jacob Ward), leading the charge for his high school basketball team. Things are looking pretty promising for Sticks, what with a new girlfriend (Sadie Stanley) and college recruiters sniffing around. But when that road becomes a little rocky, Leo goes a bit too far to ensure that everything works out for his boy. What will his wife Angela (Laurie Metcalf) think? And will he overstep so far that he ends up alienating his entire family?

What Made an Impression?: Somewhere in Queens is basically what it would be like if there were an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond where all the adults were suffering from midlife crises and all the kids were having quarter-life crises. It’s Romano’s feature directorial debut, so maybe it’s something he’s wanted to do for a while and just felt like he couldn’t within network sitcom confines. It’s not a massive departure, as he certainly brought plenty of sadsack energy to his portrayal of Ray Barone and plenty of other performances, but the dark clouds are more persistent here. Even the sillier moments are filled with inescapable melancholy. So, you know, if you’re a Ray Romano superfan, just know what you’re getting yourself into.

Bitterer-than-average turns is the name of the game for just about everybody, especially Laurie Metcalf as frustrated mom Angela, who is not at all excited about her pending empty nest era. Plenty of us know her and love her for the zingers she’s delivered with aplomb as Aunt Jackie on Roseanne and The Conners. As Angela, she’s much nastier and more resentful, but the variety that’s fueled by a mother’s love. (Regular viewers of ABC’s current Wednesday night lineup will also recognize Sadie Stanley from her time on The Goldbergs.)

At the center of it all is Jacob Ward as Sticks, who’s giving a performance that can fairly be described as “the opposite of charismatic.” That’s not a criticism; rather, it’s what the script calls for. Crafting a story around the most diffident teenager in the universe doesn’t make for the most enjoyable viewing experience from my vantage point. But there are probably plenty of viewers who will find something to relate to. And that pretty much sums up Somewhere in Queens altogether: far from a hoot and a half, but recognizably human.

Somewhere in Queens is Recommended If You Like: Weekends filled with weddings, christenings, and anniversaries

Grade: 3 out of 5 Construction Gigs