The ROMEOWS: Film Review

While it might be fun to eat a meal with these guys, watching them do for 80 minutes is another matter.

Robert Sarnoff's documentary eavesdrops on a group of elderly men during their weekly dinners together.

Have you not seen your elderly dad too often since he moved to Florida? Have you lost touch with your alter kocker uncles? Then do I have a movie for you. It’s The ROMEOWS, the subtitle of which, Retired Older Men Eating Out Wednesdays, pretty much tells you everything you need to know.

Robert Sarnoff’s documentary follows a group of septuagenarian Brooklyn College graduates during their weekly dinners as they kibbitz and nosh. As one of the congenial group members describes their “stress free” interactions, “It’s like a group without the group therapist.”

But while this is indeed a likeable enough group, watching them interact with each other over the course of 80 minutes becomes a bit wearisome. While it might be fun to eavesdrop on them from another table for a little while--say at a Chinese restaurant or Nathan’s in Coney Island, where some of the meals take place--their admittedly lively conversation isn’t compelling viewing.

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Whether waxing nostalgic or addressing such inevitable issues of aging as illness and death, the men demonstrate a strong bond with each other. But unlike in the recent, similarly themed Lunch, which featured such comedic veterans as Carl Reiner and Sid Caesar trading barbed one-liners, their mild banter doesn’t exactly hit any comedic heights.

The filmmaker makes some mild attempts at diversity with such scenes as when the men attend their 50th college reunion and cameo appearances by the likes of Senator Barbara Boxer and comedy writer Alan Zweibel. But despite these digressions the home movie-like proceedings ultimately have the feel of a private party into which you’ve wandered by mistake.

Opened July 19

Production: Sarnoff & Associates Productions, Kevin S. Raman Productions

Director: Robert Sarnoff

Director of photography: Kevin Raman

Editors: Kevin Raman, Robert Sarnoff, Eduardo Mendoza

Not rated, 80 minutes