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Why ‘About My Father’ Missed a Golden Opportunity

Comedy should have reached out to Red States to soften box office blow

Few stars worked harder to promote their new film than Sebastian Maniscalco.

The 50-year-old comedian showed up everywhere to promote “About My Father,” from major TV platforms to a press junket that had him talking to dozens of journalists in one feverish day.

Sebastian Maniscalco, Robert De Niro on filming ‘About My Father’

That’s on top of his social media work and time behind the mic at “The Pete and Sebastian Show.”

The film marks his bid to become a bona fide movie star following smart supporting work in “The Irishman” and “Green Book.”

“About My Father” is based on Maniscalco’s personal story and his brand – smart, funny, mostly PG-rated and infused with a love of family. It’s a rom-com, of sorts, but the couple in question is a father and son realizing they need each other more than ever.

And audiences stayed far, far away from the comedy over the weekend.


Not only did “About My Father” haul in an anemic $5.25 million over the four-day holiday frame, it lost out to “The Machine,” a less-heralded comedy by fellow stand-up Bert Kreischer.

THE MACHINE | Official Green Band Trailer

What went wrong?

The film’s trailer leaned more on lowest common denominator laughs than the heart of the story, for starters. Co-star Robert De Niro has made too many flat comedies in recent years, from “Dirty Grandpa” to “The War with Grandpa.”

It doesn’t help that De Niro did his anti-Trump shtick while promoting another film in recent days, “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

About My Father (2023) Official Trailer – Sebastian Maniscalco, Robert De Niro, Leslie Bibb

The title should have been workshopped harder, too, but other problems were self inflicted.

The team behind “Father” could have cushioned the box office fall by connecting the film’s core themes to an audience too often ignored.


“About My Father,” like Maniscalco’s public persona, is all about the American dream, family and the value of hard work. A core film subplot has two key characters turning back generous offers to support their careers.

They’d rather earn it themselves, thank you.

That, plus Maniscalco’s anti-Cancel Culture mindset might have coaxed a few more Heartland citizens to give “About My Father” a try.

Chances are, either the film’s marketing didn’t reach out to them or they didn’t realize the story spoke to Red State types in such a profound way.

That’s an unforced error. Consider:

They might have offered the film’s star to the only late-night show still cranking out original shows — Fox News’ “Gutfeld!”.

Of course, Greg Gutfeld explained to Adam Carolla why he can’t get more A-list stars on his show last year. Publicists fear any connection to right-leaning audiences.

Maniscalco similarly didn’t appear on “The Ben Shapiro Show” podcast or Glenn Beck’s syndicated radio program.

Would that have prevented “About My Father” from tanking at the box office? Possibly. Nothing is guaranteed in La La Land, and the film’s terrible debut may have been inevitable.

The film would have had a greater chance had it connected to a crowd eager to hear its message.


  1. Couldn’t agree more with the De Niro comments. I would never spend money to support such a vile celebrity with no class…he has a right to speak his mind and I get to choose how to spend my money!

  2. Boy it sure is funny to see “conservatives” complaining tidy that don’t support a movie with an anti conservative but damn if you guys don’t see that when black people, who’ve complained about the provable words and treatment of Hollywood for nearly it’s ENTIRE existence! Then it’s whining about Wokeness right? I guess as long as everybody is white, it’s ok?

  3. I agree w u 100%. I like Sebastian Maniscalsco very much and wish him well w this movie. He doesn’t have a filthy mouth like the majority of comedians .

  4. Not sure political parties are the reason. Perhaps movie theater attendance (pre pandemic) was down because of other viewing options? Perhaps younger people don’t see movies the old school way? Middle aged viewers busy with grandkids–not taking them to THIS movie?

  5. I loved it… I laughed out loud many times and had a nice emotional cry because it was a touching story too!

  6. The irony is that Maniscalco is a Conservative. He doesn’t lead strongly with that because he doesn’t want to alienate people and his comedy isn’t very political. I hear the movie is a turkey though. Badly written script.

  7. Saw About My Father this weekend and I connected 100%. I was born in America / Eastern European descent and my wife was born in Sicily not far from when Sebastian’s Real Father immigrated from. My wife came to the US when she was 6. Following her was a LARGE contingent of the town folk from Locati a very small town in the Madonie Mountains. From my 45+ years of experience with these people, the movie was both authentic and realistic.

    The Sicilians are a fierey, opinionated and quirky bunch. The movies captures the essence of what it’s like to be part of a Sicilian Family. Emotional fireworks are part of every day life with these people, but the one line that is not frequent crossed is Family. The contrast between Ellie’s family and Sebastian’s Father is as real as it gets. I know that for a fact. In Sicilian Families and in my family, Family Comes First. We can verbally eviscerate each other, but if you’re outside of the family don’t try to chime in or you’ll feel what it’s like to be on the wrong side of the family.

    Contrasting Ellie’s Family, Well To Do WASPs (direct decendents from the Mayflower) with Salvo, Sebastian’s quirky immigrant, hair stylist father is as American as it gets; people with totally different belief systems forced to come together by people they care about.

    I go to the movies to escape and be entertained; and I was. I don’t care about the performers’ personal beliefs, but I do care about the acting, the character they interpret, and if they were able to draw me into the story. For me, “About my Father” is 5 STARS!

  8. Anything with little Bobby D in it is a non starter with right and anything about family is a non starter with left.

  9. Please explain why “conservatives” would go see a film with VILE CONSERVATIVE HATER Robert Deniron in it? Thanks.

  10. If Maniscalco would have just stayed away from De Niro the movie would have had a chance. De Niro is not funny and he is an ass!!

  11. Yea, there’s no amount of marketing that could convince me to go to a film with Deniro in it. You want a successful red-state strategy, you have to go back and cast someone who doesn’t hate us all. Too late for that once the movie is released.

  12. I would guess that MOST CONSERVATIVES will stay away due to the vulgar, vile “star”!
    I know I won’t ever watch another movie with “him” in it! I prefer to spend MY money
    wisely and not support someone who is NOT worth it!
    You can’t INSULT me and then expect I’ll forget about it and support YOUR movie!

    1. I went to see it because it is not Robert DeNiro’s movie, it’s Sebastian’s movie. It’s going to be difficult to find a movie to watch that doesn’t have anti-conservative actors in it. So I’m basing my decision to watch a movie on the kind of message it has, and the main star. In this case, the main star is Sebastian Maniscalco. It’s his story, and it’s a relatively wholesome one. Another example is Chris Pratt. I’ll support his movies, but he inevitably has so many costars that are on the opposite end of the political spectrum. By all accounts, Sebastian is a good guy in Hollywood, and I hate to see him lose because of the actions of his costars. Just my opinion.

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