We meet the two very unlikely sisters while each are having sex. Rose Feller (Toni Collette) is a successful lawyer who is sleeping with her boss and thinking of ways it can improve her career. Maggie Feller (Cameron Diaz) is a party girl and at her 10-year high school reunion--after trying to have a fling in a bathroom stall--she ends up puking instead. Inevitably Maggie gets kicked out of her dad and stepmother's house and winds up on the doorstep of her sister. The Feller girls were close once when they were young girls especially after their mentally unstable mother died. But now their grown-up personalities clash rather dramatically. And when Maggie seriously crosses the line by seducing Rose's new boyfriend the straw is broken. Forced out Maggie stumbles upon some birthday cards from a long-lost grandmother and decides to go hit her up for cash. Turns out Grandma Ella (Shirley MacLaine) lives in a senior citizen's community in Florida that gets its humor from Golden Girls re-runs. Maggie may ingratiate herself within this new environment but isn't any more redeemed by reconnecting with Ella. She still acts like a petulant child. But rather than throwing her out Ella along with the gang of old folk forces Maggie to take some responsibility.
Collette (The Sixth Sense) is fantastic as the frumpy pudgy Philadelphia lawyer who gives up everything so she can walk dogs and lead a simpler life. But she's done this many times before--and honestly is so much better than Muriel's Wedding. Diaz (my personal favorite Charlie's Angel) doesn't need to stretch too far to play a conniving ditz with a heart. This is her There's Something About Mary role albeit a tad more screwed-up with a sister and lost grandma. So that leaves MacLaine as the saving grace for any worthwhile acting in this movie. Despite the obvious shuffleboard clichés--and the occasional leers at Diaz by the old guys around the pool--when the old folk are around the film gets lively and tolerable believe it or not. MacLaine leads the way with the quips and barbs but in a more subtle way than we are used to from this usually eccentric actress. The supporting cast of cranky cronies have some great moments especially veteran actor Norman Lloyd as the blind professor who teaches Maggie a thing or two about manners trust and family.
If this were Nora Ephron directing that would have been one thing but coming from Curtis Hanson the Oscar-winner who gave us L.A. Confidential it just doesn't mesh. Hanson can do quirky (Wonder Boys) he can do adventure (The River Wild) he can do hard-hittin' rap stories (8 Mile) and he can even do scary (Hand That Rocks the Cradle) but why in the world would he attempt a saccharine-soaked female family story that threatens to be a Crimes of the Heart tear-jerker? Screenwriter Susannah Grant who adapted In Her Shoes from Jennifer Weiner's popular bestseller of the same name also wrote Erin Brockovich and 28 Days. She understands strong female characters but there's still a major layer of sugar coating that Hanson can't scrape off. He doesn't tone anything down from Grant's script--not the overly cute dogs nor the embarrassing bridal shower nor the expected moments of guilt-tripping between the ladies. Instead he plods through the paint-by-number script and wraps it all up nicely into a crowd-pleasing film that is ultimately forgettable.
It’s Monkees Week at Channel Surfer, and frankly, it’s not a minute too soon. First up, VH-1’s venerable “Behind the Music” finally gets around to the story of the “pre-fab four” today at 9 p.m EDT/PDT. This tale marks the beginning of the time-honored show-biz tradition of a bunch of suited executive types recruiting a group of fresh-faced lads and manufacturing a singing group that would leave thousands of screaming teenagers in its wake on the way to (briefly) becoming the biggest thing going.
Sound familiar, Backstreet Boys? Heard this one somewhere before, 'N Sync? Still, “Last Train to Clarkesville” does rock, and Mickey Dolenz does “rule over everything!” No one is arguing about that.
Monkees Week continues Wednesday at 9 p.m. EDT/PDT when VH-1 premieres its original movie “Daydream Believers: The Monkees Story.” In a nice piece of irony, here, a new crop of fresh-faced young lads were brought in by a new breed of casually dressed executive types to pretend to be pretending to be rock stars.
Neat, huh? That would make them the Pre-fabricated Pre-fabricated Four or, as the kids would say, PFPFF. But they probably won’t call themselves that. “MonkeeZ” has a ring to it, should they decide to take it on the road.
It’s not that there is a shortage of good television on this week. Don’t be ridiculous. It is simply due to our solemn pledge to keep you up to date on any new developments in the continuing UFO Crisis currently plaguing our planet that we bring you information on “MSNBC Investigates -- The Search for UFOs” (today at 9 p.m. EDT/PDT).
This is a new show, not one of the hundreds of rerun and repackaged UFO docs seen, well, pretty much every night on other cable channels. MSNBC promises that you will “find out how new research tools separate science fiction from science fact.” OK, whatever, as long as there’s plenty of grainy footage, spooky music and wild speculation, we’ll be happy. By the way, MSNBC is often not mentioned in a lot of TV listings, but you probably have it. Just flip around until you see something that looks “unexplainable.” That will either be this show or yet another new vehicle for RuPaul.
Peter Jennings delivers a thought-provoking two hours of investigative journalism as he undertakes “The Search for Jesus" (Monday at 9 p.m. EDT/PDT on ABC). Jennings takes an open-minded trip through the Holy Land, searching for matters of both fact and faith. And he recruits a wide range of opinions and perspectives from archaeologists, historians and religious scholars, getting their varying interpretations of the evidence at hand. It took 2,000 years, but finally somebody is stepping up to clear this whole mess up. Hopefully, the Christians and the Muslims and the Jews will ease up on shooting one another over this subject long enough for Peter to figure out what that guy was talking about. Maybe then we can all get some sleep.
And finally this week, from the producers who brought us the bittersweet (but mostly sweet) 1997 movie “Soul Food” comes a new series of the same name (Wednesday at 10 p.m. EDT/PDT on Showtime). And if there was ever a movie that screamed out to be made into a series, this might be the one.
It’s a dramatic comedy (running 45 uninterrupted minutes per episode) about an extended black family in Chicago, centering around three very different sisters. Maxine (Vanessa Williams -- no, not Vanessa L. Williams, ex-Miss America and current Mrs. Rick Fox, from the movie -- the other Vanessa Williams) is a happily married mother of three. Bird (Malinda Williams) struggles with a new baby and an unemployed husband. And Teri (Nicole Ari Parker) is a very successful lawyer who can never find the right man. They all get together on weekends to help sort out the entertaining messes they’ve each made of their lives. Also, if the soundtrack for each episode plays like the one in the movie (produced by Babyface), this show could become a Wednesday night habit.