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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 22.64%
Average: 15.09%
Pretty Bad: 3.77%
Total Crap: 9.43%

4 reviews, 29 user ratings

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Cookie's Fortune
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by Greg Muskewitz

"The monotonous plotting detracts from the caliber of acting."
3 stars

“Cookie’s Fortune” is like some of those television shows like “Twin Peaks” or “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood” where everyone in town knows everything there is to know about each other. You know, the young cop who doubles as an actor in the Easter play, or the town’s sheriff who fishes with the soon to-be named criminal of the town, et al. But the difference is, as interesting as these townspeople are, their lives are not nearly as interesting enough to watch.

Willis Richland is a common patron at Theo’s Bar. It’s also a common occurrence most nights for Willis to sneak out a half-pint of Wild Turkey bourbon. Usually, like this peticuliar morning, Willis slips in a new bottle that he bought along the way (“Willis Richland is a professional man, he never drinks before Tom Brokaw”). Well, Willis lives with Jewel Mae “Cookie” Orcutt of whom they both consider each other “family.” The rest of Cookie’s real family –with the exception of Emma—pay her no attention.

Cookie’s other relations are her nieces Camille (the town’s theatrical supplement) and her sister Cora –a sheep, or a follower. Cora’s daughter Emma has just returned to Holly Springs, Miss. with a bruise on her cheek, which is never explained. No one except Willis and Manny Hood, the local catfish supplier, know she’s back in town.

One afternoon, lonely old Cookie yearns to be with her dead husband Buck so badly, she commits suicide –leaving a note for Willis (“Final score, Cookie: 849, Willis: 713”). To no prevail, as Camille bursts into Cookie’s house looking for a fruit-salad bowl, she finds Cookie’s dead body. This eccentric old woman hides the gun, eats the suicide note, and makes it look like a murder/robbery. Camille billows, “No one in this family commits suicide! It’s a disgrace!”

Now if only the movie could have kept up the level of energy used in this scene. Watching Glenn Close spontaneously “reenact the crime scene” was a kick. Because Willis’ fingerprints are on the recovered gun, he’s placed in jail under suspicion of murder. The sheriff fights the charges saying he knew it couldn’t be Willis. When asked how he knew, the sheriff answered “Because I’ve fished with him.” Upon finding out the news, Emma rushes to the jail where she can be with her best friend. Emma volunteers to be locked up too (“I have 234 dollars worth of parking tickets and numerous other things I haven’t told you yet!”).

“Cookie’s Fortune” is a great film performance-wise, but you wonder what happened to the script. Writer Anne Rapp at the end throws in “character-connections” by having one character turn out to be related to another, and having this character turn out to be the kid of that character. But it really doesn’t work –it’s all just added baggage for another ten minutes and some added confusion.

Last year Altman released “The Gingerbread Man” which had both a great cast and story. It ran into problems upon its release –it couldn’t find any theaters to play in. so when it finally opened in July, it tanked after about two weeks. It was written under his pseudonym “Al Hayes,” and I’m just wondering if this Anne Rapp is real. Even if she is, I wonder if this is Altman’s revenge against everyone skipping “The Gingerbread Man.”

Charles S. Dutton, Liv Tyler and Patricia Neal especially all gave great performances! The movie was never a complete waste because of these fun performances. I was also reminded of Neil Simon’s play “Come Blow Your Horn” in the way the characters were set up and stylized. When I look back on “Cookie’s Fortune,” it had neither the wholesomeness of Mr. Roger’s neighbors, nor the real secrets hidden by the citizens of Twin Peaks. This however, just seems too much like a strung-together TV series (“Fortune Cookies?”).

Final Verdict: C+

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 12/19/99 17:22:54
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User Comments

3/27/16 FireWithFire Altman shits on the South, in his pretentious ways 1 stars
10/10/07 mr.mike fan of Altman , but i was not impressed 2 stars
6/10/04 Boaz Excellent. Requires a SMART sense of humor to fully appreciate. 5 stars
5/15/03 Zach This is one of the FEW movies where I was VERY bored. Sorry yall 1 stars
3/26/03 Jack Sommersby Strains too hard at eccentricity. Dutton gives the film some soul, though. 2 stars
6/22/02 hum wonderful, but it does spoon feed the audience a bit towards the end 4 stars
2/06/02 Claxner Oxjaw Glenn Close still among most underrated actresses. 5 stars
7/27/01 Elvisfan Who'd have thought Patricia Neal & Charles S. Dutton would make a great duo? 5 stars
7/13/00 Tom Great dark Southern Gothic humor. 5 stars
12/10/99 Matt Thiel A 2 hour movie that feels like 10 hours, but it's not as bad as the god-awful "Ulee's Gold" 1 stars
9/29/99 Irina great movie for people with a sense of humour 4 stars
8/16/99 David Berrell Superb Altman creation. And the Poles loved it. 5 stars
7/19/99 TOMB BORING 1 stars
6/29/99 Pierce Lanson His best since The Player- LOVE Liv! 5 stars
6/15/99 Mikeal Fabulous. Entertaining and Deep. 5 stars
6/15/99 David Altman's leisurely style is perfect for this story, which is deep, fun, and human. 5 stars
6/12/99 DM Subtle brilliance. Best Altman film since The Player! Cause for celebration 5 stars
6/11/99 Rich Being from the South, this is a perfect look at a quirky small Southern town. 4 stars
6/05/99 M H Best movie of 1999 - probably until "The Talented Mr. Ripley" 5 stars
5/28/99 pipeman A fun film, but it dragged along. I got sleepy. 4 stars
5/20/99 bobby yea yea yea yea yea yea yea yea yea yea 5 stars
5/04/99 Malbert Could have been good if it was 1hr. shorter 3 stars
4/28/99 Jeff Fantastic - Best movie of 1999 thus far! 5 stars
4/23/99 Lauren I thought this movie was great! 5 stars
4/12/99 Alonzo ( Different for a Robert Altman film -lacked the power 3 stars
4/07/99 You know who This is a fantastic movie-go see it! 5 stars
4/04/99 Albert Um, you can call him Robert Altzheimer's from now on. The dialogue was like punishment. 1 stars
4/03/99 E Doesn't pack the resounding wallop of Nashville or The Player but Altman's in fine form. 4 stars
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  02-Apr-1999 (PG-13)


  24-Jun-1999 (M)

Directed by
  Robert Altman

Written by
  Anne Rapp

  Glenn Close
  Julianne Moore
  Liv Tyler
  Lyle Lovett
  Patricia Neal

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