“Cruise” is a new movie from the mind of Gino Cafarelli, who grew up in Flushing driving up and down Francis Lewis Boulevard.
He is the executive producer and had written the original story which he planned on sending around as a pilot before it was picked up as a movie. He also plays the father of the main character, Gio, played by Spencer Boldman.
“You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to realize the guy’s name is Gio and my name is Gino,” Cafarelli said of the inspiration.
The movie, written and directed by Robert Siegel, is a love story between an Italian boy from Queens and a Jewish girl from Long Island but also doubles as a love letter to the 1980s.
As Cafarelli says, “Who doesn’t remember their first car, their first love or the first good time they had with their buddies over that summer?”
When Cafarelli was in Los Angeles 10 years ago, he was told to stay authentic and write about what he knew. And one thing he knew was Queens in the 1980s. As the tagline for the movie goes, “’87 was Heaven.”
There’s also an impressive soundtrack consisting of contemporary songs. “The music definitely sets the tone of the movie, that period and that year,” Cafarelli said.
Of course not everything was more convenient back then. Making plans couldn’t be done with a quick text.
In the opening scene, Gio yells down the block to his friend to see if 8:30 is a good time to go cruising in his “Smokin’ Six.” The message is screamed to another friend at the end of the block who gives them an OK sign.
Gio makes some money stealing car radios. The cars that have the “No radio inside” signs are dead giveaways.
When Cafarelli attended Holy Cross High School, he would obtain cases of Armor All and sell them to classmates.
“At five bucks a pop in 1987 out of your locker, pretty lucrative,” Cafarelli said.
The characters in the movie are confident, especially with their beloved Mets as defending World Champions, even if they don’t know they have their whole lives ahead of them.
When Gio’s girlfriend, played by Emily Ratajkowski, asks him what he wants to do with his life, he admits he’s never thought about it.
Boldman, who has starred in Disney shows, won the role over actors who “were trying to act with a New York accent,” as Cafarelli described it.
Cafarelli said Boldman’s deep voice reminds him of Sylvester Stallone while his looks remind him of a young Matt Dillon.
Cafarelli shares screen time wtih him at the dinner table as Gio’s parents don’t appreciate how he checks his beeper during dinner and leaves early to meet up with friends. Cafarelli played the character based on his real father.
“He would always make those funny remarks at the table,” he said. “So would my mom.”
After working on the film for a decade, Cafarelli can enjoy the finished product.
“People are really happy that I stuck through with it because I didn’t give up on it,” Cafarelli said.