8 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, March 6, 1995
Peter Falk makes a bad 'Roommate'
By Alexandra Twin
Daily Film Editor
Bad Roommates. We've all had
'em. They smell. They're from New
Jersey. They're up 'til 5 a.m., playing
group sessions of "Doom." My first
roommate informed me on move-in
day that she was the kind of person
who really needed a single. She then
Directed by Peter Yates
with Peter Falk
and D.B. Sweeney
proceeded to slam things for the rest of
the term. It was fun. Yet no roommate
could be worse than gramps. Particu-
larly if gramps is Peter "Have I worked
since 'Columbo'?" Falk with a bad
However, that's the premise of
"Roommates," the latest wacky fam-
ily comedy from Hollywood Pictures,
the intuitive studio behind the whop-
ping hit "Medicine Man."
Young Michael's parents die. His
family is poor and suggest shipping
him off to an orphanage. His grandfa-
ther Rocky (Peter "Hey, wanna see me
do my 'Columbo' impression?" Falk)
says no way, the kid stays in the picture.
So they room together. Oh, the zany
moments that ensue: Gramps is a baker;
Michael likes molecules. Gramps is
from the old world; Michael likes to
party down in-between chem experi-
ments. They both like to play gin.
Eventually, dorky Michael (now
D.B. Sweeney) grows up and goes to
med school in another part of the
state. There he lives with a group of
stereotypical Asian-American med-
students who are all Kool-Aid smil-
ing, terrific cooks with a minimal
command of the English language.
Everything is kool and the gang.
Rocky gets evicted and has to move
back in with Michael. Yet, luckily,
Michael meets a lady: A cute, rich,
politically-correct social worker named
Beth (Julianne Moore). They get mar-
ried, move to the suburbs, have 2.4 kids
and live happily ever after.
Tragedy strikes and Rocky has to
move back in again.
Yeah, you get it: They're room-
mates for life.
Despite the impenetrable contriv-
ances, the actors provide pleasurable,
believable performances, with top
honors going to Moore, who takes her
generic "supportive woman" role and
gives it a little more spark than it
Poor D.B. Sweeney. He's an inter-
esting, understated actor who turns in
an interesting, understated performance
as the good-hearted Michael, but the
fact is, he has not managed to live up to
his '80s teen-flick potential.A little too
sharp forJohn Hughes, a little too simple
for just about everybody else. Cute but
not babe-alicious. Thoughtful but not
intense. A dozen years in the business,
15 films and his biggest claim to fame
is that he ice-skated to really bad '80s
music with Winona Ryder-wannabe
Moira Kelly in 1993's "The Cutting
Edge." Now this.
And then there's Peter Falk. Look,
the fact is that the guy is Columbo. No
matter what role he plays, you can't
help but look at him and say "Hey ...
that's Columbo!" His cantankerous
Rocky is at times tolerable, often an-
noying and frequently unintention-
ally funny. The fact is that his face is
simply not his face. You can't escape
bad makeup. Falk's is so bad that it
causes confusion as to Rocky's age,
yielding a strong belief that he really
should be dead by now. Or maybe
you're just transferring your feelings
about the film onto poor Columbo.
Should you find yourself in this
situation, here are some tips to ease
2) Say loudly: "I hope I remem-
bered to bury the bloody ax."
3) Make bets with your friends as
to what incurable disease the film will
have Rocky contract.
4) Throw popcorn at the people in
front of you. It's OK, they're all old
folks from your parents' generation, as
those are theonly people who are going
to pay to see this. (Note: This is a
generally useful tip and can be applied
to any boring experience in the dark.)
5) Say loudly, as if you've jus*
realized something incredible: "Hey
... that's Columbo!"
Disney 's Man of the House is empty
Chevy Chase's losing streak continues with 'family' movie
By Fred Rice
Daily Arts Writer
Several months ago a Disney
producer invited me to hear a
screenwriter's pitch. The screen-
writer had to do it in 25 words or
Writer: OK. A family picture. A
disgruntled kid whose mother is
hoping to remarry. The kid doesn't
like the fact that the suitor has
moved in. He's going to foil his
plans - like "Home Alone."
Producer: But with a twist.
Writer: And a heart. I see some-
one warm and familiar as the po-
Producer: Bruce Willis.
Writer: And, of course, Mac.
Well, sometime after that meet-
ing, "Man of the House" took a
disastrous turn. Mac was replaced
with an obnoxious clone (Jonathan
Taylor Thomas of "Home Improve-
ment") and Bruce Willis was re-
placed by Chevy Chase, the former
SNL player whose career should
reside permanently in the where-
So should Farrah Fawcett, who
plays the clone's mother. She hasn't
appeared in an interesting movie
since the '70s. She really has not
been in any movies since the '70s.
Chevy and Farrah look cold and
uncomfortable with their roles. They
look really bored when they deliver
Directed by James Orr
with Chevy Chase
and Farrah Fawcett
their dialogue. It's hardly the stuff
romantic comedies are made of.
And if the previews made you
think this fit in the genre of slap-
stick (a la "Home Alone") forget it.
About two scenes qualify for physi-
cal comedy and they both occur in
the first half hour. The rest of the
humor is rather questionable.
To scare away the suitor, the kid
wants to join an "Indian tribe" - a
geeky, politically incorrect father-
and-son bonding group. His plan, of
course, backfires. Chevy Chase
takes to wearing beads, moccasins,
and feathers while the audience be-
comes more and more impatient.
The tribal jokes keep rolling but
few of them are amusing to anyone
In one such scene, a "real" Na-
tive American teaches the tribe how
to do a "real" rain dance to the hip
beat of C &C Music Factory. He
also teaches the fathers and sons
how to shoot arrows and throw toma-
hawks. His presence might validate
the tribal mess, but it doesn't help
make the movie funny. Nothing re-
ally makes "Man of the House"
What truly stinks is the repeat-
ing Mafioso-Three Stooges subplot.
Bumbling idiots try to arrange a
fatal accident for Chevy Chase, in
revenge for imprisoning their boss.
They speak with New York accents.
The film takes place entirely in Se-
attle. Go figure.
I realized that "Man of the
House" had finally hit rock bottom
when several restless kids started
whining, "Mommy, this is boring."
So if the kids can't stand it, why
should any adult bother taking them?
Why did Disney bother making this.
movie? They should stick to their
Continued from page 5
Richard Shindell had a lot to prove
after his magnificent, folky debut,
"Sparrow's Point," one of the best
singer-songwriter releases of the early
1990s. His second release, "Blue Di-
vide," goes a long way towards si-
lencing claims of "fluke" and "one-
album wonder." Based in poppier soil,
the record balances upbeat, wistful
tunes like "A Summer Wind, A Cot-
ton Dress" with thoughtful ballads
like "A Tune For Nowhere."
As a songwriter, Shindell is a mas-
ter of role-playing. "Arrowhead" finds
him assuming the figure of a scared
Confederate drummerboy, too ashamed
to return to his mother after running
from a battle while in "Fishing" he tells
the story of a US Customs Agent and
his fish, an illegal immigrant who must
turn in his fellow aliens in order to save
himself. Shindell's rich baritone lends
grace and gravity to "The Ballad of
Mary Magdalene," a lament from
Mary's point of view and one of the best
tracks on the record.
Easily one of the best of the
younger songwriters currently on the
folk circuit (and easily out-talenting
college bandmate John Gorka),
Shindell is not to be overlooked.
- Dirk Schulze
"Movin' On," the first cut on
Brandy's self-titled, debut LP, isn't the
most exciting song in the world. But it
establishes Brandy - a 15-year old
cutie pie - as a dynamic singer whose
petite frame seems almost diminutive
compared to her grandiose voice.
The later songs on "Brandy" re-
ally set this CD off. Her hit singles
"Baby" and "I Wanna Be Down,"
with beats smoother than a baby's
bottom, are out of this world. These
faster-paced songs are excellent, but
that's not all to be found in "Brandy."
Homegirl hits the right auditory
nerve with her slow songs and love
ballads. "I'm Yours" and "Broken-
hearted" will almost make you forget
she's only 15 (hell, age didn't stop R.
Kelly). Also very beautiful and relax-
ing is Brandy's'"IDedicate" trilogy, a
three-part collection of interludes.
Making hit releases isn't the easi-
est task, but artists like Brandy make
it look simple. Brandy has already
proven herself to be a decent actress
("Thea" sitcom), but her musical abili-
ties transcend all. "Brandy" is right
on the money.
- Eugene Bowen
They're a local funky white band.
The singercan sound likeJimMorrison
orFrankZappain afaster, strained way.
They're almostapsychedelic'70s band.
They've got a new tape out, and it's
a fine thing. They opened for Big Chief
a while back for a good reason: they
have asimilarsound. Somehoworother,
though, Wytchhyker sounds more like
the '70s. Zounds!
Their best quality is the fact that
they are totally un-redeeming, socially.
The song "Sugar Daddy", with its tale
of an older man wishing to "spread his
seed" is both rather revolting yet won-
derfully against good taste in general.
Who cares if they didn't see it this way?
If they'd been around 20 years
ago, Wytchhyker would be selling
out Pine Knob now. Today they de-
serve to sell their tape to you.
- Ted Watts
DJ Tall Paul Newman
UK Dance Hits
Good records do not a good DJ
make. A successful DJ has to be able to
control tempo, energy, mood and feel-
ing on the dance floor and in the mix.
Tall Paul is a DJ who has both: his
records are impeccable and his mixing
skills amazing. Tall Paul's musical
tracks are cutting edge, up to the minute
jams; even though you may have heard
some of these tracks before, they are so
mixed as to almost create new songs.
The album starts off on a fast pace
with Disscuss' "Love will see the
Day." Tall Paul spins one of his own
tracks "Rock Da House" which is a
microcosm of the entire album in its
energy and breadth of emotion. Tall
Paul mixes Slam's "Positive Educa-
tion" and Sourmash's "Pilgrimmage
to Paradise" in such a fury that it
almost brings the house down. The
only ill-bred track on the album is Tin
Tin Out featuring Sweet Tee's "The
Feeling" which sounds too much like
J.J. Fad to be taken seriously.
A great dance album that show-
cases great music and a great DJ. Pau
may be Tall, but his record is phat.
Shindhead has brought together in
one album ragga's corny love songs,
the hardcore and the Shabba Ranks-
style dance hall jams. The production
is solid throughout, but the album ha*
little flow because of its eclecticism.
It seems as if Shinehead does not
really have a heart; there's no commit-
ment to making any statement with the
album. There is nothing that allows the
listener to grab on to the album. This is
notto say that diversity can not be good,
but nothing brings the album together.
The individual efforts do have some
merits however; "Troddin Thru" has a
decidedly catchy theme, "More Than A
Feeling" has guitar riffs which add new
flavors to ragga and the waning tracks
are injected with some solid hip-hop.
So Shinehead's new effort has
good points, but overall it seems a
little flimsy. It would do him well to
pick a style and go with it instead of
trying to do a little of everything.
- Dustin Howes
Year of the Dog
The mix of traditional Celtic music
with rock 'n' roll can be an incredibly
invigorating one and Wolfstone blends
the two well, kicking out jams that
dance and whirl on feet firmly planted
in both the old and new. "Year of the
Dog," the band's latest, goes along way
toward capturing the energy of
Wolfstone's live performances as
fiddles meet hard guitars and pipes col-
lide with rock rhythms. Passionate vo-
cal numbers lke "Holy Ground" and
"White Gown" are nestled amongst
highly contagious reels and jigs.
Generally, the instrumentals work
better than the harder rock songs,
featuring more of the incredible band
interplay that marks Wolfstone a*
more thanjust another group trying to
cash in on a new Celtic trend. These
Highlanders know how to play but
there is still too much division be-
tween the reels and their vocal tracks
as they truly cut loose on the likes of
"Ballavanich" but remain quite re-
strained on "Brave Foot Soldiers." If
the group can meld the two a little
better, they will be a massive force or*
the Celtic rock scene.
- Dirk Schulze
Journeys by DJ: DJ Duke
Each "Journeys by DJ" album gets
better and more underground. DJ Duke
has a unique style and sound that is
dark and foreboding. All ofthe records
Duke spin sound different when pu@
through his Acid-house lens. Duke
has a sound that is familiar to purvey-
ors of the Detroit scene, yet he still
maintains his originality.
One of the best aspects of Duke's
cet is that h cninc all mndepc nf nder-
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