Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
USA, 2007. Odyssey Entertainment, Killer Films, John Wells Productions, Blue Rider Pictures, Black Watch Productions, Less Is More Pictures, Blue Rider Pictures. Screenplay by Alice Arlen, Victor Levin, Helen Hunt, based on the novel by Elinor Lipman. Cinematography by Peter Donahue. Produced by Monica H. Anderson, Helen Hunt, Pamela Koffler, Katie Roumel, Connie Tavel, Christine Vachon. Music by David Mansfield. Production Design by Stephen Beatrice. Costume Design by Donna Zakowska. Film Editing by Pam Wise.
Helen Hunt is almost forty, a schoolteacher, and very anxious to have a baby. Having been raised in a family where she was the adopted sibling next to her “natural” brother (Ben Shenkman), the idea of having a child the old-fashioned way is very important to her. Two explosive things happen to hamper her plans: her husband (Matthew Broderick) leaves her on an impulse, and her birth mother (Bette Midler), now a famous talk show host, decides to get in touch with her for the first time. Unable to discern if Midler’s intentions are merely the result of a desire to boost her ratings, Hunt cannot tear away from this new possibility, at the same time enjoying a romance with a handsome divorcee (Colin Firth, who we know is the right guy for her because his shirts are never ironed and, well, he’s Colin Firth) whose son is her student. It has pleasant moments and some good performances, but most of it is painfully contrived and indulgent. Hunt, directing the film herself, turns out to need a director as good as James L. Brooks to rein her in (there’s a lot of worried squinting here), while Midler has never come off so much an amateur, spilling out reams of dialogue on what feel like first takes. Still, if you enjoy a feel-good movie about “finding yourself” from what feels like an Oprah selection novel, go ahead and indulge.
Toronto International Film Festival: 2007