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Family Business1982

Middletown

  • 3.9
Howie Snyder is an archetype: a retired Marine colonel in his mid-40s, a prototypical American entrepreneur struggling to make his business go. Howie's Shakey's Pizza franchise in Muncie, Indiana employs his whole family: wife, nine children and Howie himself. He is the representative of the American Dream: the chance to invest long hours and hard work in exchange for financial security for oneself and family. To watch Howie Snyder as he dickers for better treatment by the Shakey's chain, as he seeks additional financing to stave off looming bankruptcy and as he sits morosely counting an evening's disappointing receipts is to watch America at work. And to see Howie's family rally around him in the hour of his greatest need is a heartwarming experience.

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Member Reviews (2)

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top reviewer

The American Dream has never been easy. It's a minefield of despair in a field of hope. Case in point: the slippery slope Howie Snyder found himself on during the Recession of the early 80’s. This is the compelling human drama of “Death of a Salesman” combined with the complex family dynamic of “Surfwise.”

Bonus culture points for the film’s depiction of that peculiar enterprise, the Pizza Parlor. Once they were a Strip Mall staple of Mid-Century Americana: dark, noisy, caverns of endless birthday parties, pipe organs, Little League victory dinners, faded cartoons playing endlessly on giant projector screens. Now, they seem to be an endangered species, vanishing from our collective conscious along with the all-you-can-eat salad bar.

Having watched two other of the Middletown project films, "Seventeen" and "Community of Praise," this account of a retired Marine making a go of it in his family operated Shakee's franchise proved to be the noblest of the vignettes presented so far. While both the hedonistic high school culture of "17" and the spiritually narcissistic preoccupations showed the shallowness and non sustainability of self aggrandizement in youth (Seventeen) or adults (Community) and the disconnect they foster between the generations, the admiration of the Snider's younger generation for the hard working service of their parents, for them, the community and Shakees, at great personal expense, gave a noble presentation of the innate beauty of a sense of personal responsibility and service exhibited by the elder Snyders and admired by their children. Great presentation especially in contrast to the other vignettes offered in this series!