18 March 2004 | bigsix
A "buddy" movie with a different kind of "buddy".
If you think about a "buddy" movie, it can take many forms. Women may see Bette Midler in "Beaches" comforting her friends or Susan Sarandon in "Thelma and Louise" shooting up the Southwest. On the other hand men have the "Lethal Weapon", "Beverly Hills Cop" series where dim witted detectives team up with fast thinking/street smart partners. The formulas are typical and boring. This movie sets the stage for a different type of "buddy" movie. The premise is set right away with Michael Holzcek being orphaned(mother died previously with an illness) when his father dies in Vietnam and no one will raise him except his grandfather Rocky played by Peter Falk who becomes his lifelong buddy/mentor. Rocky is a Polish American in Pittsburg and at the time well past 65 but still working hard as a baker while his contemporaries are retired or dead. He is told that he is too old to raise a kid but "whoa" this senior is on a mission and not done yet! Rocky has his own stubborn ways and the "my way or the highway" philosophy of life. The story unfolds with Rocky teaching Michael the values of family and life. Unfortunately, Michael picks up alot of Rocky's "say it like it is" habits. Along the way, Michael sets out to get his college degree and head off to medical school eventually interning in Columbus, Ohio. Of course, Rocky has to join him in a home shared with Chinese medical students. This part of the movie lends itself to many funny episodes with Rocky trying to "fit in" with the students. Michael's life seems to be in a rut-just work and of course no sleep because Rocky is a horrific snorer. Life stinks until he meets his future wife to be Beth. However, no one is good enough for Michael according to Rocky but eventually Rocky learns to "live and let live" and accept Beth. The marriage develops a number of new situations and it is Beth that teaches Michael the true key to becoming a good doctor,humanity and compassion. I really enjoyed the movie but it was Peter Falk that made the movie. He has an extensive movie history and although known for the extremely successful "Columbo" TV series,he has received many awards and got his first real recognition for the true life based movie "Murder Inc".
"Roomates" has a good story line but there are several "goofs" that prevent it from getting a top rating. Here are my observations.
Although it is an ethnic movie and he was Polish American, there was no hints of Polish culture like food, dance etc. It was like the story was a composite of traits of many ethnic groups and the writers just chose "Polish American" as a label. D.B. Sweeney was not a good choice as Michael, his boyish looks are hard to make him look older as the years advance in the movie. He is also ethnic looking alright-like right out of an Irish movie with his reddish hair. However, a real big "booboo" was when Rocky was doing the laundry at Michael's house,(at this point Michael was married with children and had completed his doctor residency of 8 years)and had to have been 35. Rocky at that point would have been 98 or 100. He was moving around quicker than most 25 year old guys in a boxing match. Also he was a baker all of his life-a grueling, on your feet, all day occupation yet no physical ailments or complaints in the storyline. Falk also had a plastic cap over his head to make him look bald and old but it looked so bad that it reminded you of a game show host from the 70's with a lousy hairpiece("rug"). I recommend this movie and had some of the details been attended to, it would have been outstanding. Perhaps this is the reason that this entertaining film was probably not released in theaters.