As children Nick (Tony Lo Bianco - Lucky Day), Alicia (Lainie Kazan - Tempted) and Johnny (Chuck Shamata) were all friends, in fact Nick and Alicia started dating. But when Nick enlisted and went off to fight in the war something happened, a letter containing a proposal and an engagement ring got lost in the mail and ever since then the two families have been in a feud, refusing to speak and Alicia ended up with Johnny instead. Now 40 years after the feud started Alicia's daughter, Sara (Patricia Heaton - The Goodbye Girl), and her investment banker boyfriend, Brian (David Hunt), want to buy Nick's vineyard but the feud makes it incredibly difficult. And to make matters even more complicated there is Nick's nephew, Tony (Vincent Spano - The Rats), who had always shunned commitment but falls for Sara.
Do you like romantic comedies which feature stereotypical Italian characters, then the chances are you will enjoy "The Engagement Ring". It may be set in California but "The Engagement Ring" features beautiful vineyards, a beautiful but typical Italian soundtrack and a collection of characters that are 100% Italian stereotypes but are entertaining for being so. It is also a made for TV movie but don't let that put you off because the cast which includes Patricia Heaton, Vincent Spano and Lainie Kazan all deliver entertaining performances in this predictable but fun romantic comedy.
So story wise "The Engagement Ring" is simply familiar as you know the minute we meet Sara and Tony that romance is going to blossom between them leading to the expected complications involving her boyfriend but also their families. All of which is pleasant enough with the playfulness of Tony's flirting bringing plenty of smile moments, but it isn't anything overly original. Thankfully it is not the only storyline as we have the family feud which resurfaces when the missing letter and ring shows up and Alicia and Nick end up forced into a meeting. Again it is pretty predictable what is going to happen but in a strange way the familiarity of the "The Engagement Ring" works in its favour, making it uncomplicated and easy to watch.
Now I know there will be some who mock "The Engagement Ring" because everything about it is stereotypical when it comes to the style. We have some beautiful Italian music, the sun kissed vineyards, the typically quirky characters that are more caricature than anything; all of this is so stereotypical that you will either love it or hate it. I personally love it as these stereotypical characters are amusing, none more so than the thin as a rake Nonna who doesn't speak but stuffs away food like it is no one's business.
But the real strength of "The Engagement Ring" is in its cast with the likes of Patricia Heaton, Vincent Spano, Chuck Shamata and Tony Lo Bianco all delivering fun characters. But in truth it is Lainie Kazan who makes the movie, who brings fire to the role of as Alicia and makes you laugh with the scenes of anger when she curses in Italian and shoots a fiery glare at the camera. If you have seen Kazan in any other movie you will know what I mean and she is an absolute joy to watch.
What this all boils down to is that "The Engagement Ring" is predictable and stereotypical but it is also a lot of fun with a pleasant mix of romance and comedy.