Written and directed by Anne De Salvo, this sickeningly saccharine 91 minutes revolves around a supposedly tight-knit, triple-generation family of women. Each character embodies the ultimate in annoying stereotypes, from selfless martyr to irresponsible wanderer. And of course, they each have a male in their life to represent the standard issues of women's liberation from 30 years ago.
These issues are blatantly imbued through four sibling daughters, the product of Dolly (Cloris Leachman, Hanging Up) and a recently deceased father. As Dolly is obsessed with taking care of her burial details, the girls come together to discuss and judge her life and each other's.
Grace (Mercedes Ruehl, The Fisher King) allows her husband (Paul Sorvino) to walk all over her. She is the ultimate Energizer bunny for her family. Her special skill besides homemaking? She always knows which saint to pray to. Denise, (Dinah Manoff, in her first role in eight years) defends her right to remain single as she searches for a storybook romance. Is Mark Harmon the one, after he had the nerve to tell her she couldn't sing professionally while he's still supporting her through auditions? Christine (Sean Young, Blade Runner) is currently separated from the father of her child (Jamey Sheridan) because he is far more focused on being a successful ad man than caring about his family. To round out this list of polarities is Delores (Lily Knight), a young woman who is mentally damaged and treated like a thorn in everyone's side.
Do any of these women deserve respect? They certainly don't try to improve their situations. Grace admits she surrendered her needs to her own husband as Christine complains her marriage just can't work. What does Christine do to comfort her disappointed daughter each time Daddy doesn't show up? Sit around the house all day and complain, or go to a relative's house. To complain.
These issues are dealt with in the same conversational fashion prevalent 20 years ago. Christine argues with her mother that she wants out of her marriage. She proclaims that women expect more these days, to be happy instead of accepting a life of servitude to their husbands. Her mother stereotypically replies that she is glad she got married when she did because at least she had "stability."
The blandness of this dramatic work comes inherently from overly emoting dialogue: "Mom, he gave nothing in return!" "Christine, he gave me my children." "Paul, you're gonna die alone because your whole life is alone." This last said by a male co-worker who leaves Paul to work on a major project by himself so he can read his child a bedtime story. "How did you know Aunt Loretta was the one?" "Because she had a good heart, what else do you need?" This is just a small sample of the excruciating, explicit dialogue. The entire movie sounds this bad.
On the flip side of one exasperating emotional note after another, the structure shifts to provide easy endings to conflicts without natural plot devices to go with them. Dolly suddenly allows Delores to have a boyfriend, after explaining that some people are picked by God to go through life without significant others. Of course, Paul and Christine work things out when he skips a big project to come to their daughter's ballet recital. Sheridan, Harmon, and Ruehl exit with the least amount of shame, using silence just as well as their quiet dialogue. If only the other characters had been so lucky.
It's this type of storytelling that keeps women from being able to write and direct projects that are intelligent and worthwhile. Ugh.
Run time: 91 mins
In Theaters: Tuesday 9th January 2001
Distributed by: Providence
Production compaines: Fox Family Channel, Persistent Entertainment
Contactmusic.com: 1 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 46%
Fresh: 6 Rotten: 7
IMDB: 4.8 / 10
Director: Anne De Salvo
Screenwriter: Anne De Salvo
Starring: Cloris Leachman as Dolly Amati, Mercedes Ruehl as Grace, Dinah Manoff as Denise, Sean Young as Christine, Lily Knight as Dolores, Lee Grant as Aunt Spendora, Edith Fields as Aunt Loretta, Edith Fields as Carla, Sam McMurray as Brian, Matt Winston as Johnny Barlotta, Garrison Hershberger as Kevin, Anne De Salvo as Cathy, Sal Viscuso as Father Dedice, Marissa Leigh as Laura
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