Review Date: September 14, 2001
Director: Robert Benton
Writer: Robert Benton
Producers: Arlene Donovan, Scott Rudin
I always tag this film alongside BEAUTIFUL GIRLS, because 1) it basically looks like it was shot in the same small town and 2) it's essentially a similar version of that movie, but with an "older" angle. Think about what the character of Birdy (from 'GIRLS) might've turned into after 30 years in that same small town, and that's pretty much what you get here. Another thing both films have in common, other than actor Pruit Taylor Vince, is solid acting performances across the board, with Newman's star shining brightly the whole way through.
Bruce Willis is also surprisingly effective as his "nemesis" and Melanie Griffith, an actress who has never really impressed me, gives us a little bit of sweetness here and offers the film that little extra spice (and yeah, she shows us her awesome boobs in one particular quickie scene as well-- can anyone say PAUSE!!!).
But the basis of this story is very much a human one. It covers various characters going through their own little problems (much like any one of us go through every day), and highlights each of them enough for us to care and engage ourselves into the entire story. There are no easy answers, of course, and very much like the basis of MAGNOLIA, this film lets us know that even though we may be done with the past, the past may not be done with us...just yet.
But as Newman's character keeps repeating in this cozy dramedy, he tends to "grow on you" in this film and it isn't long before his sarcasm, his habit of drinking and his big heart (the scene in which he tells Vince's character that he's his best friend is precious) draw you in entirely, as well as the snow, the Christmas feel and the lack of "Hollywood" hoopla which makes this charming flick a definite winter keeper.