Friday, February 13, 2009


CHICK FLICK AGING TIP: Life begins at forty, if you are from Ork.

Mad About Jew, Bridget Jones’ Whipping Boy, Ferris Bueller 2000, middlin’ Midler, Dr. Great Satan, the Rugrat Race, awkward dry humping, Steve F’N McQueen, and aging, orc-ish Helen Hunt and her Middle Earth crisis.

More details here.


April (Helen Hunt) is running out of time in pursuit of a ticking time bomb. No, she’s not an exasperated 24 regular, she’s a 39-year-old preschool teacher who desperately wants to have a 40 metric ton carbon footprint (i.e. baby). Her Jewish Mom (Lynn Cohen) and brother Fred (Ben Shenkman) pressure her to adopt, but April has always wanted a child of her own, especially since she is adopted and never knew her biological parents. To make matters worse, she’s married to immature dullard Ben (Matthew Broderick) who’s emotionally crippled in a passionless marriage. April’s life gets even more complicated when her adoptive mother dies, Ben leaves her, and she discovers that her biological mother is New York daytime talk show host Bernice Graves (Bette Midler). Filled with mistrust and suspicion, April eventually warms up to brash and irritating Bernice, but when lies start to surface about why she was given up for adoption, she rejects her. Sullen and hopeless, April finds comfort in the company of one of her student’s fathers, Frank (Colin Firth), an eccentric and recently divorced book jacket writer. Frank’s ex-wife walked out on him and the kids and since then he has allowed his anger to fester and manifest itself in quirky behavior that April finds charming. Despite the ethical wrongness of dating one of her student’s parents, April gives in to her desire and they fall in love. But when she finds out she’s pregnant with nincompoop Ben’s child, things again get very complicated. Bernice again enters her life, Ben returns with a renewed desire, Frank turns into a pissy jerk, and April gets her belly probed by pediatrician Salman Rushdie. Yup, f&*^ing Salman Rushdie. And in the process of learning to love, trust, and become a mother, skinny April discovers herself and looks like she could really use a schmeared bagel or twenty.


Helen Hunt went MIA after that silly Mel Gibson comedy What Women Want, and even though that film was brutal, it looked as if she was on her way to becoming a better established, bigger star. But, in the years since, she’s been scarcely seen, and so her directorial debut Then She Found Me feels like a comeback of sorts. Based on a novel by Elinor Lipman, this light comedy has an undercurrent of misery and pain beneath its deceiving rom-com surface. Although it takes a while and some investment, the movie reels you in unrelentingly. April’s ordeal is hideously painful and yet we are strapped in for the ride. Her choices are hysterically misguided and yet we are unable to help her. She looks like she could use about fifty salami sandwiches yet all we can do is mourn for cheery, cherubic Helen from years past who really needs to go up a dress size. After an unsteady beginning, the movie picks up steam and the nice chemistry between Hunt and Firth counterpoints the awkward pairing of Hunt and Midler. But maybe it’s just Midler being Midler that upsets the balance in these kinds of weepy things, and you just have to be a Midler fan to appreciate it. This non-Midler fan took a while to warm up to her, and when it does happen, it’s a mild surprise. Hunt’s direction is sensitive and polished as, being an actress, she understands the need to fully explore and get to know the characters before they are subjected to the twists and turns of the narrative. That’s not to say the movie is all doom and gloom. Yes, these are tremendously sad characters caught in embarrassing and tragic circumstances, but it’s the demonstrated strength of their character to overcome this melancholy that makes for solid story. The movie is well-written and almost has an improvised feel to it due mostly to the natural talents of the cast. Then She Found Me is funny, emotional, and restrained, despite the schmaltzy circumstances that bring the characters together and a super-sappy, but poignant ending. I swear that if you don’t squirt at least one tear at the end, you are an inhuman monster. I will refrain from a Midler joke here.

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