You have to appreciate a buddy/road picture in which no one gets killed, drives a car off a bridge or debates the virtues of ancient TV programs. Writer/ director Dan Cohen's "Diamond Men" charts the fall and rise of Eddie Miller (Robert Forster), a jewel salesman forced into a personal crossroads after a heart attack leaves him uninsurable by his long-time firm. To salvage some semblance of a career, Eddie is forced to train his own replacement on the Pennsylva-nia retail-store circuit. He's Bobby Walker (Donnie Wahlberg), a 20-something jackass who knows nothing about the trade but expects to get by on chutzpah and flash. (His road wardrobe includes a shiny purple blazer and animal-print underwear.)
Eddie, aware of his own looming obsolescence, is appalled by the new era of brash ineptitude Bobby may represent. But the men gradually open up to one another and forge a degree of mutual respect. Bobby even takes an interest in renewing his mentor's moribund love life -- though his idea of how to do it is as unconventional as his skivvies.
Forster is a proven master at conveying the approachability of outwardly stony gentlemen like Eddie, and Wahlberg -- who had a memorable bit part in "The Sixth Sense" -- has clearly become a force to be reckoned with. At each stage of Bobby's metamorphosis, the character remains fixed in a reality that's free from exaggeration or maudlinness. The story's wrap-up is sluggish and ethically suspect, but there's too much genuine affection at work here -- between the salesmen and for them -- to resist.