Wednesday, October 25, 2000

Two Family House

Posted By on Wed, Oct 25, 2000 at 12:00 AM

“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


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

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

More by James Keith La Croix

Read the Digital Print Issue

February 24, 2021

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation