Warning: This post contains spoilers for About My Father
About My Father’s ending gets sentimental as it unites Sebastian and Ellie’s families. Directed by Laura Terruso from a screenplay by Austen Earl and Sebastian Maniscalco, who also stars, About My Father brings together two wildly different families when Maniscalco’s character decides to propose to his longtime girlfriend.
After an argument, Salvo (Robert De Niro), Sebastian’s Italian American father, leaves his mother’s ring for his son but decides to go back to Chicago. A Christmas card photoshoot goes awry after Ellie (Leslie Bibb) discovers her parents, Tigger (Kim Cattrall) and Bill (David Rasche), have been paying a third-party designer to buy her art. Following a conversation with Ellie, Sebastian realizes how lucky he is to have a father like Salvo, and hops on a helicopter to the airport to stop him from leaving. Salvo and Sebastian have an emotional moment before heading back to the country club, where Sebastian proposes to Ellie, and they decide to go back to Chicago instead of moving to Washington, DC.
Sebastian doesn’t want Salvo to meet Ellie’s family out of the goodness of his heart or a love for his dad. Rather, his primary reason is to appease his father enough so that he can obtain his grandmother’s ring to use in his proposal to Ellie. Sebastian is embarrassed by his father, which is why he doesn’t want him interacting with Ellie’s family, whose wealth and lifestyle will put off Salvo and potentially stop Ellie’s parents from liking him. Sebastian was only thinking about himself and how he will be perceived, wanting only the ring from his father instead of thinking about how it might make Salvo feel.
Salvo was feeling unappreciated; Sebastian was only using him for the ring and didn’t want Salvo to be a real part of the larger family. Salvo felt the only thing he could do for Sebastian after their fight was give him the ring — it’s what Sebastian wanted and Salvo wasn’t going to stand in the way of his son’s happiness, even if he didn’t get to be a part of it. By relinquishing the engagement ring, Salvo realizes it might be best to allow Sebastian some space. The ring was a peace offering; Salvo knew he’d upset Sebastian, and though they had their differences, he wanted his son to have what he wanted regardless.
Sebastian and Ellie’s families are not on the same wavelength for the majority of About My Father. They come from entirely different worlds. Tigger and Bill come from old money, and their wealth affords them an upper class life of comfort and privilege that Sebastian and Salvo did not have. However, Salvo understood that Sebastian needed him to get along with Tigger and Bill or risk losing his son in the process, so he turned on the charm. Though the families don’t see eye to eye when it comes to certain things, including work ethic and money, Salvo, Tigger, and Bill ultimately want the best for their children, which is what brings them together.
Sebastian was offered the manager position at Bill’s prestigious hotel in Washington, DC, but he decided to turn it down to stay close to his father, who was all the family he had left. While the idea of moving away and starting something new sounded worthwhile, Sebastian understood that family was more important, and he didn’t want Salvo to feel like he was just abandoning him to join Ellie’s family. Sebastian and Salvo’s relationship took a couple of hits throughout About My Father, but Sebastian understood what his father had sacrificed for him. He wouldn’t leave him behind for a job offer that was an attempt to get Ellie to move closer to her family.
Salvo promised that he would cook Ellie’s family dinner, but since they didn’t have any chicken and all the stores were closed for the fourth of July weekend, he decided to kill the peacocks despite the fact that they’d been with Ellie’s family for years and were treasured by them. To Salvo, the peacock had to be sacrificed regardless of what it meant to the family. He was a resourceful man who felt he needed to do what he had to do in terms of looking good in front of Ellie’s family — at least for the sake of his son — and if that meant cooking the peacock, then so be it.
Tigger and Bill were used to being able to provide everything for their children. By buying Ellie’s paintings through a third party designer, they felt they were doing something kind and meaningful for their daughter, helping out her career in the process. This act of manipulation will likely affect Ellie’s confidence surrounding her art in the future. She might be unable to trust that anyone likes it because she hasn’t been getting honest feedback.
What’s more, Ellie’s career could be stalled because she isn’t achieving as much as she thought. It might dampen her creativity for a while, at least until she can come to terms with what her parents did. Ellie’s relationship with her parents could be affected in the short-term, but she’ll probably let it go because she understands their hearts were in the right place.
Doug was on the path to becoming a healer, but he was a bit out of touch with reality for the majority of About My Father. Doug kept mentioning his online girlfriend, but Bill and Tigger didn’t believe him because he acted somewhat naive. Doug’s parents were under the impression that someone was using him for his money, but the fact that his girlfriend turned out to be real proved that Doug was sincere and smarter than anyone gave him credit for.
About My Father’s ending posits that a bond between a son and his father is complicated, but still worth fighting for. Sebastian seems quick to throw away his working class upbringing, fearing being embarrassed by his dad and thinking he wouldn’t understand the changes Sebastian has made in his life. Conflict aside, however, the film showcases that familial bonds are stronger than anything that may come between them. The film suggests that understanding, honesty, and communication are key to maintaining parent-child relationships. Even when it comes to class differences, About My Father’s ending shows how such obstacles can be overcome so long as people are willing to listen and learn.