(KGET) — “The War With Grandpa” and “Team Marco” are two films that have a very similar basic premise. A grandfather reluctantly has to move in with his child’s family and that upsets the life of his grandson.
In “Grandpa,” that resulted in a painfully bad movie with a centrally flawed concept. The battle between grandfather and grandson is neither entertaining nor believable.
“Team Marco” takes the same idea and presents a story that deals with respect for history, the power of family and the need for friendship. It does that while also making bocco ball interesting.
Pre-teen Marco (Owen Vaccaro) is living in a high tech world where his major obsession is defeating a video game that his father invented. He must succeed to get to attend a huge video game conference. Marco shuts out the world to concentrate on the game.
When his grandfather moves in, Marco is shown a way of living his life – playing outside without electronic devices. That’s where he is introduced to bocce, a sport his grandfather (Anthony Patellis) plays because of family and friends.
There is initial resistance but eventually the two generations find a meeting of the minds and the heart. Instead of turning the grandfather-grandson story into a series of embarrassing attempts at humor as in “Grandpa,” “Team Marco” finds the right amount of tension and sentimentality to make the story work.
It is obvious that writer/director Julio Vincent Gambuto has a special attachment to the story. He has made his directing debut with a story dear to his heart having grown up in a large Italian family in Staten Island. He returned home to shoot the movie and it ends up being a sweet nod to the people and the places. He even includes members of the real Staten Island Bocce Club.
The key is that Owen and Patellis work so well together. Their characters act the way real families do even when they are on opposite ends of an argument. This honesty is not to be found in a movie like “The War With Grandpa.”
What it all comes down to is that star power can be a good thing as in the case of knowing if Tom Hanks or Meryl Streep are in a film, the odds of it being a quality production go dramatically up. Star power can also be bad when the cast of a major theatrical star – like Robert De Niro in “The War With Grandpa” – can get more attention for a poorly done film over another one with a similar theme that is far better in quality,
It is the very warm and touching “Team Marco” that should have been given the theatrical release that “War With Grandpa” got instead of only being available on digital platforms. “Grandpa” has the bigger star power draw but “Team Marco” is a far superior film.
“Team Marco” is available to rent through such digital platforms as Vudu and Prime Video. It would be a good selection during the holidays.
Cast: Owen Vaccaro, Anthony Patellis, Anastasia Ganias.
Running time: 92 minutes.
Director: Julio Vincent Gambuto
Rated: PG for smoking