Lost in Yonkers is a film adapted from the play of the same name. The film surrounds two young boys, Arty (Mike Damus) and Jay (Brad Stoll), who are forced to move in with their strict, scary grandmother (Irene Worth) because their father is in deep debt. In their time with her, they get a better understanding on why her children, especially Bella (Mercedes Ruehl) and Louie (Richard Dreyfuss) are the way they are.
Mercedes Ruehl as Bella delivers a particularly powerful performance. She plays someone who is mentally challenged but overall is very innocent and optimistic. And the film delivers on the tone and dynamic of what a dysfunctional family would be like. Uncle Louie has a lot of charisma in his character but it’s also believable that he has criminal lifestyle that he prioritizes. The grandmother was also very cold and intimidating, her presence was always felt on screen, but she did feel a little generic at times.
My ultimate criticism of this the movie is that it’s forgettable. The film was a little slow at times. And there’s not much use for the young boys in the film except to help out the family with chores or being told information to create more backstory for the other characters. They are used as a sort of lens for the audience, but I wish that we could have seen how spending time with their grandmother changed them like it has changed all her children.
I think if you like family dramas then you will enjoy this movie. And I think the director, Martha Coolidge did a worthy adaptation (though I never saw the original play). And I think even though she is primarily doing TV now that it’s a great to see women working as directors and how she was able to get such great performances out of her actors, many of whom were never in film before.
I give this film a C+