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Overall Rating

Awesome: 12.96%
Worth A Look37.04%
Average: 3.7%
Pretty Bad: 24.07%
Total Crap: 22.22%

5 reviews, 24 user ratings

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Other Sister, The
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by Erik Childress

"Give the Film a Break"
4 stars

The Other Sister (***) - In the movies, fortunately or unfortunately, there are only two ways to portray retarded people: (1) For a laugh or (2) For sympathy. The Other Sister has the distinct position of going for both the laughs and the pathos - but not in a way that could be easily deemed as hitting the audience over the head. Itís a slippery slope - but, seriously, how can your heart not go out to a retarded character no matter how he or she is portrayed.

Roger Ebert has written in his review that these characters are used as props to employ sympathy, which in a way is true, but they are not shown as victims, which a lot of movies do as a way of hitting its audience in the head with a hammer to bring about tears. They have moments of humiliation in the film, but no more than any other character in countless other films. Iím about as torn as Natalie Imbruglia trying to write this review because on one side youíve got critics like Ebert (and Iím sure many others) who reject to the way the material is presented and the other end of the spectrum where weíve got the audience members in the theater who burst out into thunderous applause and the end of this film like it was the opening for the new Star Wars prequel. I didnít like it that much nor did I despise it the way some of these snooty know-it-all critics did. Iím treading carefully here - so let me begin with problems I had with the film. The Diane Keaton character seems to suffer from severe mood swings. She starts out as a clone of Mary Tyler Moore (from Ordinary People), very unfeeling and thinks she knows the best for her family. Then a big fight occurs and she softens her stance a little bit. This lasts for a little while - then she becomes a bitch again - then a softie - then a bitch. Get the pattern here. Itís a little distracting. Giovanni Ribisi at times seems to think heís in Children of a Lesser God rather than Bill - even losing his speech pattern a few times. The film drops the ball with the handling of one of the sisters as well. They build up to this point where it comes to a audience revelation about her and since no one else in the film has acknowledged this fact - when it comes - it appears as if thereís going to be yet another bomb dropped on this family - when in fact - they already know and have just chosen to ignore it until the plot tells them to bring it up. I also had problems during the wedding sequence. I donít care how cute or romantic it may be - if someone did what goes on at this family wedding - Iíd be livid. I also donít think that playing ďShe Drives Me CrazyĒ on the soundtrack was a wise choice, or even a new song by Savage Garden that is essentially about jungle animals, no matter how catchy it might seem on the soundtrack. But on the plus side - I was taken in by the story primarily because it handles the romantic element of the movie so much better than a lot of bogus Hollywood romances (even if it does throw in the obligatory break-up scene - a standard movie crisis that screenwriters should drop immediately). A lot of talk is being made that this film is about retarded people having sex - a lesser movie would have made it the main issue - but here, itís merely shown as a part of the relationship as it progresses. The film doesnít linger on it and doesnít exploit it and I think a lot of critics are way off base on this issue. The film is essentially an audience pleaser (as most Garry Marshall films are) and it doesnít reach the emotional climax of the far superior Nothing in Common, but it blows away the sappy Beaches, which had every movie clichť of feuding friends and even threw in a little Cancer to complete the film, kinda like another recent movie with Julia Roberts. The Other Sister doesnít throw in the handicap of being retarded, it tries to deal with it, and to bring a sense of dignity to it that people with handicap can be independent and can love just as much.

Ebert made some funny, if off-handed comments in his review about the performances of Juliette Lewis (which I enjoyed) and Giovanni Ribisi. He said that it looks like they learned how to act retarded by watching Jerry Lewis. Iíve got news for Roger - there are all kinds of mental retardation. I work part time with a young man who suffers from it. They are not a blanket group of people who walk and talk all the same way. Thatís Arab women. Iím joking. I kid the Arabs. I loved Executive Decision. But all kidding aside, I may not have cheered at the end of The Other Sister, but I didnít regret the time I spent in the theater either.

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originally posted: 02/16/00 09:14:26
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User Comments

2/28/13 Andrew What a Boring movie! 1 stars
6/23/08 Shannon Beckloff I think this the cutest movie! I absolutely LOVE it!!! 5 stars
11/08/05 ralin alberca its a wholesome movie, teachers must see it 4 stars
8/22/05 Naka NO. An absolute affront. You people are retarded. 1 stars
7/15/05 Beau Geste I think it's one of those 1*or 5* films. I gave it 5 5 stars
3/24/04 Pam Be Dextrous What role did Joanna Goiong play in this? I sure don't remember her in this. 4 stars
9/28/03 JJ What a heart-felt well acted movie and with a happy ending! 4 stars
7/07/03 Terrance Rogers I seen and STILL don't know as much about retarted people so i'll leave it at that! 4 stars
10/14/02 Charles Tatum Wow, retarded people have the best one-liners; no basis in reality 2 stars
9/26/02 snowconehead This movie is about puppies, two little puppies 5 stars
5/16/02 Allison Lafferty Why wasn't Juliette Lewis nominated (at least) for best actress? 5 stars
9/01/01 Butterbean It's full of shit, but touching. I think Ribisi is really retarded. 4 stars
6/20/01 Colin Foster I'm afraid real life is much harsher than this. Mainstream hollywood just cannot handle le 3 stars
6/14/01 Poxont Great, funny film. Lewis & Ribisi fantastic as usual! 4 stars
12/28/00 Turtle This is a cinematic masterpiece. Funny and touching. 5 stars
4/11/00 Elvisfan Ugh, kill me...this was agony & couldn't see the entire thing 1 stars
4/25/99 shona cameron excellent 5 stars
4/08/99 Big Jimmy was i supposed to be laughing at them or with them? 1 stars
3/23/99 Jenna this movie rocked, it was so good and believable 5 stars
3/19/99 Negative Creep My image of Juliette Lewis as a sexpot has been shattered! Arrrgghh! 3 stars
3/12/99 Briona I thought it was great. It even got me to cry, so hey, don't dis it! 4 stars
3/05/99 Mboga Touching and well acted. 4 stars
3/04/99 Ebert Shameless in it's use of the handicapped as a gimmick. 1 stars
3/02/99 EmmetOtter A chick flick. My wife and her sister loved it. My nephews and I died of boredom. 1 stars
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  27-Feb-1999 (PG-13)


  22-Apr-1999 (PG)

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