Director: Helen Hunt
Cast: Matthew Broderick, Colin Firth, Helen Hunt, Bette Midler
Ben Shenkman, Lynn Cohen, Salman Rushdie
April (Hunt) is a 39 year old schoolteacher desperate to have a child.
However things begin to go wrong for April once her husband Ben (Broderick) leaves her, followed by the "what else can go wrong?" death of her adoptive mother (the wonderful Cohen).
Then with the reappearance of her biological mother; the sassy, mildly famous daytime talk show host, Bernice Graves (Midler), who deeply wants to reconnect with the daughter she gave up decades before, the film finds itself trying to explore the human condition like Woody Allen, only to end more like a rejected sitcom pilot.
Hunt's directorial debut, and slightly narcissistic self casting, proves to be very much like everything she's done in the past.
Hunt, very much like April, seems to be stuck in a rut, in which she knows she isn't giving all she has, but feels safe enough to follow.
April is built with the same hysterical behavior that made Jamie Buchman so funny in "Mad About You" and Carol Connelly so affecting in "As Good As It Gets", but as one character it all feels a bit too much.
To this sprinkle a bit of ethnic humor (Jewish culture in this case), the Mr. Right (who else but Firth?) everyone can tell is good for her and you end with nothing but good intentions served in a stuffed platter.
Midler is as reliably charming as ever and Firth fills his character with nuances that come off looking adorable when they should feel annoying, but as a whole the film fails because of its structure.
Hunt has copied the style of some of the great television directors she worked with, but she has forgotten that in cinema you don't have the aid of commercials.
When one of her mothers dies and the other one appears three minutes later without an invitation to try different car insurance or a new fast food meal in between, we feel we too have been cheated of something.
For every moment in which the low keyness of the script achieves real emotion (a scene where April takes a nap with her boyfriend's children) there's one that feels like uncomfortable self parody (a subplot involving Steve McQueen) often leading us to wonder when exactly did we change the channel.