The big Oscar follow-up is a time-honored tradition. Whenever someone wins their first Oscar, be they an aging veteran or a rising up-and-comer, their next film (oftentimes a passion project) is green lit straight away, and it soon becomes a hot property amongst the industry. With his now meteoric (and admittedly kind of inspiring) rise to the spotlight by writing his father’s story (and attempting to incorporate Dr. Donald Shirley’s), Nick Vallelonga’s writing follow-up to the Academy Award-winning film Green Book is certainly going to have all eyes on it. And while I don’t want to kick anyone while they’re up or down (despite certain discomforting tweets, I didn’t even hate Green Book, despite my misgivings in the formulaic writing and simplicity of complex issues), I can’t get over the film we now know is Vallelonga’s passion project, That’s Amore!
Written and directed by Vallelonga, and produced by Gene Kirkwood, a friend of the real life Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen’s character in Green Book), this is the real plot to That’s Amore!: the film is a musical romantic comedy set in Los Angeles. Nick Venere is a 40-year-old Italian pizza shop owner who has resigned himself to bachelorhood before he meets a shy, introverted young woman with an overprotective father and a dark secret. The two find love and offer each other a chance to ward off loneliness. And that woman’s name? I sh*t you not – Patti Amore.
This plot description fills me with giggles. I mean, beyond the idea that this is a musical, possibly ripping off La La Land, this film is blatantly the same plot as Marty and Moonstruck (both listed as inspirations by Vallelonga, along with My Big Fat Greek Wedding). Oh, and may I once again draw your attention to the fact that THE WOMAN’S NAME IS ACTUALLY AMORE! HAHAHAHAHAHA! My apologies, I said I didn’t want to kick anyone around in this article. Anyway, Vallelonga and Kirkwood have said they want to get to work immediately on the film, which Kirkwood has said made him “feel like he was going out to get a veal parmigiana sandwich,” utilizing the musical connections Kirkwood made during production of The Defiant Ones (which, for those of you who aren’t aware, is a documentary about Dr. Dre, so…that’s a choice) and Vallelonga’s own history writing music, including the instant classic “New York City Christmas” (please click on that link, it is a 6 minute song that will fill you with complete joy), and they will later bring the show to Broadway. Here’s hoping the lead is once again Viggo Mortensen, and he does the exact same over-the-top Italian impression he did in Green Book.