Lovely & Amazing

| July 6, 2002

Here is a list of movies which opened this weekend that I could have seen instead of Lovely and Amazing:
Like Mike
The Powerpuff Girls
Men In Black 2 (for a second viewing)
You know what the difference is between those movies and this one?
Lovely and Amazing, quite simply, isn’t.
It’s one of those talk pieces that are only made by independent movie companies trying to get anything made in order to have something to shop around. It might have been a “Chick Flick” but judging by the comments heard in the lobby afterwards, the women didn’t get it either.
If you like well acted movies (for the sake of acting), you will probably enjoy Lovely and Amazing. The cast did a great job with what they were given. Unfortunately, writer/director Nicole Holofcener (Walking and Talking) gave them great situations that didn’t amount to anything. It was as though she never listened to her high school English teacher who tried to tell her that a good story has a beginning, a middle and, help me here….AN END. Stay in school, kids.
Maybe it’s the tag line that holds the key. It was, “If you’re hoping for the perfect family, don’t hold your breath.” This evidently is, in post movie reflection, supposed to make us think of young Annie Marks (Raven Goodwin), a young and troubled black child who has been adopted into the Marks family by Jane Marks after her two other daughters have grown and left the nest. Little Annie, as a way of getting attention, holds her breath under water each time she is in a swimming pool, scaring all the adults around her and focusing them on her instead of their petty little lives.
Brenda Blethyn plays the mother, Jane Marks, and is wonderful. Whoever says there are no parts for actresses over 50 should take note: Ms. Blethyn stars in 11 different films released in 2001 and 2002. I guess if you can act, there’s always something available. Jane is an middle aged women who has a social conscience and feels that if you can help someone you should. Hence, she adopts Annie. She also is able to keep herself from becoming overbearing with her daughters; instead giving them honest pushes in the right direction.
The daughters are Michelle Marks (Catherine Keener from Being John Malkovich and Walking and Talking) and Elizabeth Marks (Emily Mortimer -The Kid). Michelle is an unsuccessful artist in an unhappy marriage. She ends up taking a job at a one-hour photo shop where she seduces, or gets seduced by, her 17-year-old boss (Jake Gyllenhall – Bubble Boy). Elizabeth is an actress on the bubble. She has had a few parts but is one break away from success. She is also as insecure as they come, seeking approval from a boyfriend (James LeGros) who could actually care less. When she finally recognizes this the audience gave a collective sign of “Good riddance to that jerk.”
As mentioned above, the acting is quite good and Mortimer turns in an amazing performance. Maybe she used to be that insecure actress and was drawing from memory, but in one scene, she shows that she has grown way past that. Elizabeth goes to bed with a sleazy, but popular, actor (Dermot Mulroney from My Best Friend’s Weeding as Kevin McCabe) and afterwards stands naked before him and asks him to give her the positives and negatives of her quite delicious body. From my point of view, McCabe is way off the mark, but Mortimer shows a rainbow of emotion as he goes through a litany of minor but mostly negatives about her body. For aspiring actor types, this might be a case-in-point of working through a difficult scene.
Well, this is almost 600 words about a movie that you probably won’t and shouldn’t see. Except for the nude seen, and you can catch that on cable – at about 1 hour and 20 minutes in.

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