Starring: Johnny Thurzday, Nathan Todaro, David Francis Calderazzo, Erick Zamora, Tom Lyle, Louis Balletta, Rick Borgia and Timothy J. Cox
My Father, My Don is based on an autobiographical account of Tony Napoli’s life adapted from the book of the same name. The film centers on Tony’s summarized recounting about his father ‘Jimmy Nap’ Napoli, an infamous Brooklyn mobster, who ruled over the largest gambling empire in America for almost four decades.
The film opens by showing us an older Tony (Johnny Thurzday) returning home one morning, looking worse for wear due to his heavy drinking and having missed one of his daughter’s Birthday. From then one it gets worse for Tony as we see through his own destructive actions, trying to defend his daughter, he is sent to the VA hospital to attend AA meetings.
Initially Tony is reluctant to participate in the group but eventually the AA group leader (Timothy J. Cox) manages to make him confess to being an alcoholic. It’s from this point that Tony decides to share his life story in order to begin his healing process. Tony begins recounting the memory of his father, Jimmy Napoli, who began as a small time gangster, truck driving for Frankie Yale (Rick Borgia), then rises through the ranks and after a chance encounter with Al Capone (Erick Zamora) his life changes forever.
The story then quickly moves on to show us younger Tony (Nathan Todaro) struggling to live under his father’s shadow drinking and being destructive and erratic. We get a glimpse into Tony’s troubled relationship with his father and how he struggled for years to get his approval. In the end Tony admits to the group that he used to think his father would have him eventually killed, but somehow he managed to stay in the right side of line and it was through his struggles that he finally decided to clean up his life and give back.
The production is average but achieves enough to set the tone of the film. The cast all do an efficient and believable job in their respective roles, especially younger Tony and older Jimmy Napoli (David Francis Calderazzo), who in their short screen time make you believe in their relationship as troubled son and commanding father.
Verdict: There’s no doubt that Tony Napoli’s life is deeply fascinating but since this film only just over 26 minutes long it only ever scratches the surface of the narrative and we only get a peek of what life for Tony was like with his father and their tumultuous relationship.