‘Team Marco’ Review: Bocce Will Save Our Youth

In the middling family drama “Team Marco,” 11-year-old Marco (Owen Vaccaro) lives with his mother, Anna (Anastasia Ganias), in Staten Island. His father, Richie (Louis Cancelmi), left them, going west to chase the technological gold rush. Richie talks only about tech and coding, and he encourages Marco’s obsession with video games. Marco in turn rejects offers of friendship, hates the outdoors and is as absent from his own social life as his father is from Marco’s life.

Everything changes when Marco’s grandfather moves in. Nonno (Anthony Patellis) is an old-timer who springs out of bed with the sunrise to play bocce matches with friends. At first, Marco sniffs at Nonno’s lust for living. But eventually, as Nonno introduces the boy to sunshine and rainbow cookies and games that can be enjoyed without a console, Marco’s disdain melts away.

If there is an aspect of “Team Marco” worth richly enjoying, it’s that the movie has a loving sense of place. The director Julio Vincent Gambuto takes a golden view of Staten Island, with its bocce courts, Italian bakeries and gaggles of older men who still wear hats to the park. He just doesn’t extend the same warmth to his protagonist.

As a character, Marco is a collection of faults designed to be corrected. It’s hard to be on his side and harder still to see him as a reflection of genuine childhood. Instead, he stands in for the grievances an older generation holds against a younger one, with their infernal virtual reality headsets and online games. Marco’s sourness curdles the confection and his undercooked complaints clack against the movie’s warm tone, sending its simple pleasures into a scatter.

Team Marco
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 32 minutes. Rent or buy on iTunes, Google Play and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators.

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