COMIC DRAMA; 1hr 41min
STARRING: Helen Hunt, Colin Firth, Bette Midler
Hot mama: from left, Midler and Hunt
As an actress, Helen Hunt is unafraid to look her nudging-45 years, and why not? Her grounded style won her a Best Actress Oscar for As Good As It Gets and in this (slightly) comic drama, her star vehicle and directorial first, she takes on another eminently relatable role.
April Epner (Hunt) is a 39-year-old schoolteacher who desperately wants a baby and whose husband (Matthew Broderick) has left her. Zinger No. 2: April’s adoptive mother dies. Then her biological mother, a buzzy butterball TV-show host (Midler), suddenly shows up. Plus, April is falling hard for the hurting, divorced father (Firth) of one of her students. Time out!
Firth’s brusque directness brings balance to Hunt’s nervy intensity, while Midler is her own wacky, one-woman show. The screenplay, based on Elinor Lipman’s 1991 novel, is sudsily sincere but its characters can’t help but wend their way into your good graces. And yes, the word is wend. Hunt may be a newbie director, but she is not shy about making the most of it.