Thursday, February 23, 2017

Lost Cat Corona: Truly Made in NY

A lot of those free “Made in NY” subway posters doled out by the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment go to films that do not look so “made in NY,” but that certainly won’t be an issue here. People in the City tend to forget Queens is technically part of Long Island, but it has plenty of street smart neighborhoods and iconic New York sites. From the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park of World’s Fair fame to plenty of back alleys and backyards, a reluctant sad sack searches for his girlfriend’s missing feline in Anthony Tarsitano’s Lost Cat Corona (trailer here), which opens tomorrow in New York.

Leonard the black cat is missing, probably to make poor Dominic’s life miserable. He had taken the day off to attend the wake for the father of his high school pal Sal, but the domineering Connie insists he find Leonard first. For a while, Dominic’s buddy Ponce offers his dubious help, but all he finds is a paper bad stuffed with cash and a severed ear. As Dominic scours the neighborhood, he crosses paths with some criminal elements. Disappointingly, it seems old Sal the cop is one of them. However, Dominic also re-connects with some decent folks, including his Uncle Sam and Jimmy Pipes, a Vietnam veteran whose Purple Heart was stolen by a local punk kid.

As movies go, LCC is light-weight and wafer-thin, but Ralph Macchio carries it quite well. The Karate Kid survivor was surprisingly funny in the unfairly maligned Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead and he exudes an easy everyman charm as Dominic. On the other hand, Gina Gershon is like fingernails on the blackboard as Connie, a stereotypical big-haired hen-pecking Queens drama queen. The large ensemble of New York character actors largely do their shticky thing playing colorful members of the neighborhood, but Tom Wopat (the former Duke of Hazard turned Tony-nominated Broadway mainstay) is the clear standout for his sensitive turn as Pipes.

Let’s be honest, a film about a lost cat is by definition small stakes stuff, but Tarsitano helms with a light touch. Over the course of the day, he forces Dominic to dredge up some painful memories, but the film never feels maudlin or manipulative. In fact, it is rather pleasant in a low-calorie, low-stress kind of way. Recommended for natives of Queens and maybe parts of Brooklyn that can relate, Lost Cat Corona opens tomorrow (2/24) in New York, at the Cinema Village.