Without any sort of lingering doubt, it’s easy to recognize the impact of Robert Wise’s career in Hollywood. The guy practically invented/reinvigorated genres in the golden days of cinema, with films like The Sound of Music , Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Andromeda Strain, West Side Story, The Day the Earth Stood Still and even lesser known classics like I Want to Live!, The Set Up and Odds Against Tomorrow. Wise even edited Citizen Kane!
So what the hell happened here? In 1989, after a 10 year hiatus from directing, Wise emerged with Rooftops, his final film. And comparatively, his worst. It’s no Uwe Boll piece, but based on his credits, this is waaaaay out of place.
Here's what goes down: homeless New York kids live on rooftops and engage in “combat,” a fighting/dance/thing. T, the main dude, is the best in combat, and his buddy Squeak crosses some drug dealers. Squeak gets killed, T and his buds struggle to regain their neighborhood. The plot pretty formulaic. In all reality, the movie is almost insulting with what homeless kids actually go through. But cinematically, it's great, cheesy ‘80s and it gets better with multiple viewings! Jason Gedrick from Iron Eagle, Troy Beyer and DAYYYUUUMMMM GINA! aka Tisha Campbell all star in this epic skyline melodrama. It’s totally ridiculous, totally awesome and even endearing in how naive it is.
So far this is unavailable on DVD, and it’s probably better that way. I firmly believe that the only reason it’s watchable is because it remains on VHS. It has potential to become a bargain bin DVD hit, I’m sure, but that would spoil it.