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Overall Rating

Awesome: 4.17%
Worth A Look: 18.75%
Average: 12.5%
Pretty Bad: 29.17%
Total Crap35.42%

6 reviews, 12 user ratings

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by Erik Childress

"Just Have Your Flashback And Die Already!"
1 stars

Just because a film predominantly consists of the female persuasion does not instantly grant it status of a “chick flick” It’s an unfair classification on any cinematic exploit that doubles as hypocritical to anyone who would dismiss someone’s unenthusiastic response to it as an aversion to a label said someone wouldn’t classify as in the first place. The doublespeak is clearly an intentional act to divert readers from assuming my male sensibilities can not be overcome by the dramatized problems of women coming to terms with things. (See Reviews: In Her Shoes, Waitress) Therein lies the word though. Drama. It has a merit all it’s own no matter what sex, color or creed the characters may be. Evening, brought to us by the same author who gave us the dreary pretension of The Hours, reveals a rather standard mediocrity rather early. Then, much as the characters get older, a decrepitude sets in coupled by hallucinations of grandeur that somehow forgets to include the very moments on which they’re apparently coming to terms with and resulting in easily the most insufferable film experience in a year that has already given us Wild Hogs, The Hills Have Eyes 2 and Premonition.

Dying a death that can’t come soon enough is Ann Grant Lord (Vanessa Redgrave). Visited by her daughters, Constance (Natasha Richardson) and Nina (Toni Collette), Ann goes to Rosebud theatrics by announcing to them that “Harris and I killed Buddy.” Flashback time everyone, back to meet Ann in the ‘50s as a young bohemian (Claire Danes) attending the upper-class wedding weekend of her best friend, Lila Wittenborn (Mamie Gummer, whose resemblance to Meryl Streep is genetic). Here we meet the apparently doomed Buddy (Hugh Dancy), a childhood chum of Ann’s by association of being Lila’s brother. We know he’s doomed even without the confession as his infatuation with Ann is about as pronounced as a full-body tattoo. Doesn’t stop him from introducing her to handsome Harris Arden (Patrick Wilson), another family friend whom every guest in town seemingly wants to do the boyfriend trouser dance with.

Back to the deathbed though where Ann is having hallucinations about her “night nurse” (Eileen Atkins) and we’re treated to further life regrets between the two daughters. In this bizarro In Her Shoes, it’s Richardson’s Constance that is the responsible homemaker and Collette’s Nina that has no direction for life. She’s considering dumping her latest boyfriend and gets to announce her secret pregnancy something like three times to anyone who will listen. In-between her uterus promulgations, it’s back to young mom putting out fires at the Wittenborn estate. Lila is unsure about her pending nuptials cause she’s in love with Harris. Buddy is unsure whether to stop drinking cause he’s in love with Ann (and maybe Harris too.) Ann is unsure whether to care about anyone else’s feelings cause Harris is naming stars after her.

If this is the protagonist we’re supposed to be sharing feelings with, don’t be looking for teardrops to be rollin’ down my face. With Claire Danes occupying the role, we know the waterworks will be hitting her cheeks soon enough. And it’s hard to join in with such an aimlessly thoughtless character. Her friend, Lila, is so desperate to join the ranks of Jennifer Wilbanks, that she doesn’t inspire so much sympathy either. But getting back to Ann, as the film frequently does just when another character starts bitching about their problems, this has to be the single dumbest broad on the planet when it comes to recognizing a crush since Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink. Buddy doesn’t help his cause by drinking more than a blowfish with Charles Bukowski’s liver in Foster Brooks’ aquarium, but what’s a guy gotta do? Carry old notes written by the love of his life in his pocket? Oh wait, he does that too.

Not that a suitor destined for the end-stages of cirrhosis in the middle of “I do” is the most ideal choice for Ann, but who in the hell is this Harris dude other than just a handsome bastard? He’s all but abandoned his title of “doctor”. As played by Wilson, he’s drippier than the similar object of lust he played in Little Children, but without the foibles of that character providing a clear definition of his behavior. Like why he’s a blank slate one moment and the guy who can make women’s knee buckle the next. Or why during Ann’s requested vocal performance at Lila’s wedding, Harris gets up to dance away the bridge with her. Hey douche, who invited YOU on stage? He’s not even one sheet to the wind when he makes this quasi-romantic gesture in his eyes while any sensible guest privy to Lila’s request for her wedding day should have tackled the guy before he hit step one.

Twelve steps are beyond the reach of Dancy’s Buddy and it’s painful to watch him struggle with the vice strengthened by Ann’s inability to choose the right tact to handle him - particularly in the later scenes. She all but announces herself as someone who wouldn’t be satisfied with what Buddy was offering and then lashes out at him in such a cruel public display that his fate is all but sealed. Where this moment in time leads Ann is left as a blur with brief flashbacks that wouldn’t satisfy an episode of How I Met Your Mother. The generational damage that this evening supposedly reigned down is not properly visited upon creating a void that makes the present day melodrama all the more trivial and prosaic. You can’t come to terms with things if we don’t know precisely where you’re coming from.

Drama queens will never make for good drama. I don’t care where their cinematic pedigree comes from. Natasha Richardson handles her big confrontations like an ill-prepared SNL host, constantly looking to the side for her cue cards. Glenn Close has one of the most ridiculous breakdown scenes ever, not helped by the way its edited into the fold. By the time Meryl Streep shows up to suddenly be the one character with perspective (something that someone has lacked in every scene) despite being an absentee friend since that “evening”, you’re hoping she comes equipped with a pillow to smother Ann before her next hallucination. Like the one where she imagines anyone gives a hot damn about anyone she’s ever met or produced.

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originally posted: 06/29/07 14:00:00
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User Comments

1/20/08 BS Cringe inducing -- especially Glenn Close's breakdown and Hugh Dancy's overacting 1 stars
9/30/07 Lumi Bad movie, GREAT review. I laughed my ass off, I read it twice, awesome dude! 1 stars
7/18/07 Steve Cohen For once the critics were right. Worst movie of year. Dance will get razzberry!! 1 stars
7/12/07 D It's like getting hit over the head with a bag of oranges 1 stars
7/08/07 Peter H Weak development. Ann's lifelong regret from one weekend with Harris, a plastic hunk? 2 stars
7/05/07 Jamie Collins Painfully lacking a plot! An experience in confusion and regret. 2 stars
7/04/07 Nancy Jones So glad I got to see it with my daughters! Shows how we make the best decisions we can! 5 stars
7/04/07 Nancy Jones So glad to have seen it with my daughters! Shows how we make the best decisions we can! 4 stars
7/03/07 Helen R. Robare I loved this film! Obviously the critics didn't which means it must be good right? 4 stars
7/03/07 laura bennett different 4 stars
7/03/07 Val I can't believe I wasted money on this! It was more of a COMEDY to me... 1 stars
6/30/07 Desiree Crawford great movie! 5 stars
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  29-Jun-2007 (PG-13)
  DVD: 25-Sep-2007



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