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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Movie Reviews > Then She Found Me

MOVIE REVIEWS

THEN SHE FOUND ME (2008)

Starring Helen Hunt, Bette Midler, Colin Firth, Matthew Broderick, Ben Shenkman, Lynn Cohen, John Benjamin Hickey, Maggie Siff, Geneva Carr, Edie Falco, Janeane Garafolo and Tim Robbins.

Screenplay by Alice Arlen, Victor Levin & Helen Hunt and Helen Hunt.

Directed by Helen Hunt.

Distributed by ThinkFilm.  100 minutes.  Rated R.

125X125

Then She Found Me

Remember the late 90s when it seemed like Helen Hunt was in every movie getting released?  Of course that isn't the case, but between 1995 and 2001, beyond her work of the hit sitcom Mad About You (which ended in 1999) she appeared in nine high-profile films - including As Good As It Gets, Twister, Cast Away, What Women Want and Pay It Forward.  Since then, she has essentially disappeared from the Hollywood scene, starring in one unnoticed film in 2004 (A Good Woman) and doing a modest role in the star-studded ensemble drama Bobby (2006).

Well, I suppose it is no real secret that roles are a lot harder to find in Hollywood for actresses who are over 40.  And, in fairness, buzz around Hollywood has always been that Hunt was somewhat difficult to work with.  Therefore, with the marquee film offers drying up, Hunt has taken her career into her own hands: starring in, writing, directing and producing this independent labor of love.

I just wish I loved it as much as she did. 

Or even particularly liked it.

I think we can safely say this is not the project that will be rejuvenating Hunt's stardom.

Sadly much of this blame can be traced back to Hunt herself.  Honestly, the source material is not really playing to Hunt's talents.  I have not read the novel that this movie is based on, but her screenplay keeps skirting over huge plot points and relying on unlikely coincidences to the point that the audiences don't buy much that happens.  It's a kind of weak story and the writing is not strong enough to make us care about it.  (The confusion of the screenwriting process is probably pointed out best in the fact that Hunt has two of the four screenwriter credits for the movie.)

Her lead character of April is an annoying sad-sack: miserable, numb, whining, needy, unreasonable and regularly making what is exactly the the wrong decision on most major life choices.  Therefore, screenwriter Hunt sabotaged actress Hunt with an almost impossible-to-like role.  On the other hand, you do have to give Hunt a certain amount of respect for allowing herself to be filmed in such an unflattering light (beyond being a rather unlikeable character, Hunt allows herself to look every second of her age).  This is most certainly not the Hollywood glamour project of an aging diva.

It doesn't exactly help that her co-stars also are in the past-their-sell-by date sector of their careers.  Midler tries her best - and frankly gives this film most of the little life it has - but Broderick's later career role shift from hip, rebellious 80s kid to nebbishy middle-aged loser is long past annoying.  He's been playing essentially the same role since Election in 1999, and it pretty much peaked that first time.  Besides, you know when Colin Firth has the most viable current career of the four leads, things are in a bit of trouble.

Hunt plays April, a forty-ish teacher who wants nothing more than to have a child but can't seem to conceive.  Her marriage to a good friend (Broderick) turns out to be an impulsive disaster.  Her adopted mother dies and she is feeling totally alone. 

At that moment her birth mother suddenly reappears in her life, wanting to become friends.  April is understandably somewhat cautious about the reunion, but eventually she seems to be rather unreasonable and selfish in her relationship with the mother she never knew.  At the same time, she meets a British divorcé (Firth) who is - amazingly - even more neurotic than her ex-husband.

Some of the casting seems a little odd.  Midler seems much too young to be playing Hunt's mother.  The sense is always that Midler can't be more than five to ten years older than her daughter - even though the actress really is old enough to be her mom, if you buy the film's conceit that it was a teen pregnancy.  (Hunt is 45, Midler is 62).  It also seems odd to have the actress whose best known role was of a shiksa goddess on the series Mad About You playing a devout Jew (though again, explained away in the film by the fact that she is adopted) while Midler, one of the most Jewish actresses anywhere, is playing a WASP.  Hell, they even have Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Salman Rushdie as Hunt's OB-GYN.  A nice touch, I guess, but odd and distracting at the same time.

Then again, odd and distracting sadly describes way too much of this movie.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2008 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: September 18, 2008.

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Copyright ©2008   PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: September 18, 2008.

 

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