Roberts' Open House
If you don't like sweet, sentimental and overly nice movies then walk away now because "Our House", the 2006 TV movie, is one of the sweetest and most sentimental movies you can watch. It is a heart warmer, a charming tale of kindness and friendship as an old lady who with no one to share her large home with is just waiting to die until she takes in the homeless and finds she has a new family, new friends and a new joy in her life. It is everything you would expect from a Hallmark movie but if these charming afternoon movies which are fuelled by the milk of human kindness are your sort of thing, and to be honest I like them, then "Our House" is a must watch.
Ruth Galloway is finding life hard (Doris Roberts - A Time to Remember), she maybe in remission from cancer but since her husband passed away she has been lonely, rolling about in their big home really just waiting to die. When an incident leads her to meeting Billy (Judy Reyes), a homeless women that all changes as Ruth is determined to help Billy and not just Billy but the other homeless people she meets, giving them a roof over their heads, three meals a day and a chance to get a job. But her neighbours are not happy at Ruth turning her home into a place for the homeless and neither is her career minded daughter Geena (Ann Magnuson) who is determined to make her mother stop.
It sort of feels wrong to criticise such a heart-warming movie as "Our House" but to get the various issues done with here goes. Well lets say realism isn't a strong point, considering we are talking homeless people everyone is so nice and whilst not all homeless people are violent druggies the few we meet in the movie our a little too nice. Add to this that issues are dealt with too easily and director Mark Griffiths manipulates are emotions in quite an obvious way, although I challenge anyone to watch "Our House" and not shed a tear come the end of the movie. Of course these criticisms are sort of null and void because if "Our House" had been grittier, more realistic and less manipulative it wouldn't have ended up the pleasant afternoon movie it is and that is what it aims to be.
So anyway as to the story itself well to be frank it starts off a little familiar as we have widower Ruth Galloway all alone in her big home, her son still visits and cares but her daughter is cold and career minded and in all reality Ruth is just waiting to die to be with her departed husband. But an incident leads her to meet Billy, a homeless woman who Ruth feels something for and wants to help and what follows from there is Ruth not just helping Billy but lots of homeless people. Typically there are those who object, from neighbours who don't want homeless people near their houses as well as Ruth's daughter Geena who goes out of her way to cause trouble.
What follows basically sees Ruth feeling like she has a reason to live because she is helping all these people, using her home and money to get them work. We see these homeless people become not just friends but family to her, truly caring for her and appreciative of what she does. And then of course the battle as Ruth faces legal action from neighbours who try to shut her down. There is something else to the story which I won't mention but it does mean we have a surprisingly simple but also emotional scene.
Now the thing about "Our House" is that the storyline whilst pleasant it is the performances from two people which raise it to be truly heart-warming. Judy Reyes as Billy delivers a really great character when you remember that the lack of gritty realism going on, she gets across the street toughness, the fear of kindness in case it gets taken away, the fear of making friends but also the kindness she has to others. It is a really nice performance from Reyes and she works so well with Doris Roberts who plays Ruth Galloway. Roberts delivers the expected quirky eccentricity of her character, the kind old lady whose generosity is limitless, but also the fragility of the character the loneliness and the feeling of wanting to die. There are other good performances but Reyes and Roberts are the driving force, it is their friendship which makes it so special.
What this all boils down to is that "Our House" is what you expect from a Hallmark movie, it is sweet, sentimental and heart-warming and not exactly realistic. But with good performances from Doris Roberts and Judy Reyes and such a heart-warming tale it is what it is a pleasant afternoon movie.