Time: 107 mins.
SYNOPSIS: A failing Italian restaurant run by two brothers gambles on one special night to try to save their business from closing for good.
BOTTOM LINE: Taking center stage in this drama, Tucci and Shalhoub are perfectly cast as two brothers from Northern Italy, Primo and Secondo, trying to make it as restranteurs in 1950s New York. Their food is superb, but strange to the locals who think all Italian food comes covered in marinara sauce. Primo recognizes his brother's culinary genius, but Secondo's implacability regarding the menu is killing the business. That and the extremely popular red sauce restaurant right up the street owned by their supposed mentor Pascal (Holm).
At the end of their monetary rope, Primo plans the dinner of the year in honor of jazz musician Louis Prima, whom Pascal promises will attend. The subsequent publicity and word of mouth from the star is meant to put their little restaurant on the map and save them from financial ruin. Though stressed to the max, they pull off a feast of epic proportions, one their guests will never forget and neither will you.
The meal sequence is epic and the best part of the film, causing the mouth to water and the spirit to yearn for an experience as scrumptious and downright fun. The amount of food that's eaten is truly mindboggling. Much credit has to go to the art director for making it look so good and the actors who make it appear truly delicious...even though it must have been hard, in reality, for them to eat it after awhile.
The evening doesn't quite turn out as they planned, which is really no surprise, but in the end the experience solidifies their relationship and renews their hope in their American dream. The plot may be simple but that's not the point. BIG NIGHT is a wonderful character piece that allows you to savor every moment. Shalhoub and Tucci give A-list performances that touch the heart and stimulate the soul. A small film that achieves its' large aspirations and one you should not go into hungry.