“Can you be a Singing Star ... Screw ’em ...Why NOT?,” reads the banner of the Make Your Own Record carnival stand, as Buddy Visalo (Michael Rispoli, Summer of Sam ) sways to the accordion accompaniment of an Italian-American ballad. It’s karaoke, ’50s style. The microphone’s his dream lover as he leans toward it crooning kisses. You’d think he was Staten Island’s blue-collar Sinatra.
Buddy’s reaching for the stars, but not that high. He’d be content to be a one-hit wonder. But his fiancee, Estelle (Katherine Narducci, from HBO’s “The Sopranos”), offers him an ultimatum: marriage and a real job or singing and his dream. Buddy chooses life with Estelle (a twin bed and a room in her family’s house) and a machinist’s gig.
Staten Island’s blue-collar Sinatra turns into its Ralph Kramden: a clown prince of the failed big idea. Two disastrous businesses behind him, Buddy takes what could be his last shot at being a contender. He buys a rundown two-family house planning to make the second floor a home and convert the first floor into Buddy’s Tavern, his own business and a showcase for his talent. There’re only two problems: an alcoholic curmudgeon, Mr. O’Neary (Kevin Conway, The Confession) and his pretty, very pregnant young wife, Mary (Kelly MacDonald, The Loss of Sexual Innocence) who refuse to leave their second-floor flat. Soon, a problem baby makes three, inciting drama within Buddy’s Two Family House.
This House is a fixer-upper. Its plot is slow to build and it gives little motivation for the extreme actions of its main characters. It sometimes plays like a laughless episode of a revisionist “The Honeymooners.” But its foundation is strong, focusing on cultural, racial and marital relationships in ’50s America in a fresh — and surprising — way. Two Family House holds a happy ending and a moral: If you throw your life away for love, you might get a better one.
Opens Friday exclusively at the Maple Art Theatre (4135 W. Maple, W of Telegraph). Call 248-542-0180.
James Keith La Croix writes about film for Metro Times. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at email@example.com.
Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.