The shticky comedy "A Wake in Providence" makes a belated arrival six years after it was made because of the demise of the Shooting Gallery series. The long delay did not help the film (does it ever?) and it seems even more out of time than it must have in 1999. Vincent Pagano stars as Anthony Gelati, an F.B.I. (Full-Blooded Italian) actor based in L.A. who returns to Rhode Island with his African American girlfriend, Alissa (Victoria Rowell), for his grandfather's funeral. The film's broadly drawn (if affectionate) caricatures who make up Anthony's extended Italian American family (faux mobsters and all) must deal with the shock that Alissa is indeed black, a fact Anthony failed previously to mention.
Written by Pagano, his brother Mike (who plays Anthony's brother, Frankie), Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore, and directed by Rosario Roveto Jr., the film aims for a light social satire but mainly falls flat. It feels more like a long-lost pilot for some never-aired 1970s sitcom or a misguided sequel to a Billy Joel song. Rowell and Adrienne Barbeau as Aunt Lydia, saddled with the least campy roles, acquit themselves the best among the actors.
"A Wake in Providence," rated R for language and some sexual content. Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes. At Loews Cineplex Beverly Center 13, 8522 Beverly Blvd., (310) 652-7760.