TWO FAMILY HOUSE Add To My Top 10
Upsetting Family Values
Release Date: October 06, 2000
Genre: Romantic Comedy-Drama
Audience: Older teenagers & adults
Runtime: 108 minutes
Distributor: Lions Gate Films
Director: Raymond De Felita
Executive Producer: Jim Kohlberg & Adam Brightman
Producer: Anne Harrison & Alan Klingenstein
Writer: Raymond De Felita
Address Comments To:Tom Ortenburg & Mark Urman, Co-Presidents
Lions Gate Releasing
New York, NY 10012
Phone: (212) 966-4670
Fax: (212) 966-2544
Michael Rispoli plays Buddy, an Italian machinist living in Staten Island. After a series of failed attempts to own his own business, Buddy settles on a dream of owning his own tavern. He buys a rundown two-story house on the edge of the Irish section of town, where he plans to live upstairs over the bar with his wife Estelle. Buddy gives an eviction notice to a drunken Irishman living upstairs with his young pregnant wife. The Irishmen refuses to leave, however, so Buddy decides to take his friends one morning to forcibly evict the man.
Buddy’s troubles with the Irishman do not surprise Estelle, Buddy’s wife. She has never had much faith in Buddy’s attempts to make a better life for them. In fact, she and her family convinced him not to try out as a singer for the old Arthur Godfrey Show even though he knew, in his heart of hearts, that he could have been a success. So, Estelle ridicules Buddy’s efforts behind his back with her friends and later even hides a letter from the bank telling Buddy that he’s spending too much of their savings on building the bar.
When the Irishman’s wife, Mary, suddenly goes into labor during the forcible eviction, the resulting birth of her baby changes the equation of everyone’s life. Mary’s husband abandons her. Buddy begins to feel compassion for her, trying to help her out financially. Eventually, however, he finds escape from his shrewish wife in her arms, for Mary is far more encouraging to his dreams than Estelle. This act of infidelity leads to further complications for the whole neighborhood.
Although TWO FAMILY HOUSE contains stereotypical ethnic characters, it conveys the period well. This is mostly done through the soundtrack and the performances of the actors, including Kelly Macdonald as Mary and Katherine Narducci as Estelle. Thus, it’s easy to see why this movie might win an audience award like the one at Sundance.
The movie, however, views Estelle’s betrayal of her husband more harshly than it does the adultery that occurs in the story. Although Estelle hides her betrayal of Buddy with the bank, she can’t hide her negative attitude toward his attempt to transform the first floor of their new house into a bar. Thus, Estelle’s infidelity to Buddy’s dream is eventually what drives Buddy into the arms of Mary. Estelle believes Buddy is trying to be something he’s not. Her small-mindedness plays a crucial role in the outcome of the story. This outcome proves to be a small indictment of the ethnic hatred which rears its ugly head among Buddy’s lifelong buddies, not to mention Estelle.
Thus, although Buddy’s compassion toward Mary and her plight is admirable, the movie’s condoning of adultery is not. This moral confusion is a result of the movie’s anti-biblical romantic worldview. Making matters worse is the fact that TWO FAMILY HOUSE also contains plenty of strong foul language, including a significant portion of profanities misusing the Names of God.
Although TWO FAMILY HOUSE contains stereotypical ethnic characters, it conveys the period well. This is mostly done through the performances of the actors and the soundtrack. The movie, however, condones adultery, although it also values human kindness toward people in need. This moral confusion is a result of the movie’s anti-biblical romantic worldview. Making matters worse is the fact that TWO FAMILY HOUSE also contains plenty of strong foul language, including a significant portion of profanities misusing the Names of God