When The Many Saints of Newark was announced in 2019, Sopranos fans were excited at the prospect of a film that explained Tony Soprano’s youth. Unfortunately, the movie came out and, well, wasn’t so good. The one life raft that fans can cling to is the slew of Sopranos references that The Many Saints of Newark contains, which are in most respects pretty well done.
Fair warning, the following will spoil The Many Saints of Newark. Proceed with caution if you have yet to see the film.
Artie Bucco and Vesuvio
In multiple scenes, a younger Tony Soprano is accompanied by an equally younger Artie Bucco, the beloved bumbling restaurateur from the hit series. He refers to how he doesn’t want to follow his father’s legacy and run a restaurant. Bucco references his father’s restaurant as Vesuvio, which shares the name with Bucco’s future restaurant, a prominent location in The Sopranos.
Even though we did not need another reason to despise Junior Soprano, The Many Saints of Newark gave us exactly that. The biggest revelation in the entire film is the death of Dickie Moltisanti, with the film ending on the reveal that Tony’s uncle Corrado “Junior” Soprano ordered a hit on Dickie because he laughed at him after taking a nasty fall down some steps.
Tony Soprano revealed his IQ as 136 in the series after he discussed with his therapist whether the number meant anything. The film contained a scene in which Livia Soprano, Tony’s mother, is called into his guidance counselor’s office. Tony’s guidance counselor made reference to his intelligence, which Livia outright rejected.
Tony’s football years
This is probably the best reference in the entire movie and will get a chuckle from hardcore Sopranos fans. At a family gathering, Tony’s Uncle Junior utters the very meme-worthy line, “Tony never had the makings of a varsity athlete.” This of course referenced the line Uncle Junior uttered in season five, “Your father never had the makings of a varsity athlete.”
This is the most interesting reference in the film because it’s both a reference and an omission. Tony Blundetto in The Sopranos played Tony Soprano’s cousin, and it was stated that he and Tony were inseparable as kids before Tony Blundetto’s unfortunate incarceration. One would then infer that a movie that shows Tony Soprano’s childhood and has characters like Carmilla Soprano, Jackie Aprile, and Artie Bucco would also show Tony Blundetto, but he is only mentioned once in passing. Odd, considering the emotional impact Tony Blundetto has in the later seasons, only to mostly omit him from the movie.
The beehive incident
One of the most explicit references to The Sopranos occurs when Johnny and Livia Soprano are driving home with Dickie Moltisanti after a night out. Johnny gets agitated at Livia for talking too much and he pulls out a gun and shoots her right in the head. The bullet goes right through her hair and this is referenced by Janice Soprano in season six of the series. Interestingly enough, the story as told in The Sopranos had Uncle Junior in the car with his goomar and not Dickie.
The biggest and most on-the-nose reference takes place at the end, when a young Tony Soprano decides to follow in Dickie’s footsteps and The Sopranos‘ theme song plays. There is something to be said about how well this reference plays in the cinema. Watching The Sopranos on television and watching Michael Gandolfini become the role his father was most known for while “Woke Up This Morning” by Alabama 3 played through the cinema speakers might have been the best moment in The Many Saints of Newark.