Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Julia Stiles, Shirley MacLaine, Alessandro Nivola, Randy Quaid, Edward Atterton
Director: Marleen Gorris
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy
Julia Stiles (MONA LISA SMILE) and Academy Award(R) winner Shirley MacLaine (1983 Best Actress, TERMS OF ENDEARMENT) star in CAROLINA, the endearing romantic comedy about a young woman (Stiles) trying to escape the eccentr... more »
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This movie has a little bit of everything
Amy Hilliard | VA, United States | 05/01/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Based on quality this movie should have been released in the theater. However, because it is a more "quiet film," the studio was probably worried that it would cost them more to release it in the theater than they would make by just releasing it on DVD. Shirley McClaine and Julia Styles are well known actors, but there have been many romance movies recently of this type, so the studio probably figured these actors alone might not have enough pull to draw in a big crowd. I hope the audience out there proves them wrong because this is a good movie. Regardless of how it might or might not have done in the theater, it is a great renter. Although it is like every other romantic comedy released in the last few years in that one friend is secretly (or not so secretly) lusting after the other, the acting and writing distinguish it from the rest. As Randy Quaid says in the behind the scenes documentary (special features bonus), the movie is "about real people."
Julia Style's character Carolina grew up in a dysfuntional family that would give any "real" family a run for its money in terms of personal problems. For example, one of her sisters thinks she can win the lottery by going into a trance, while riding a rocking horse. Also, at the movie's beginning you find out that Carolina's Dad is an alcoholic who drops each sister off at his mother's doorstop as soon as she is born. Shirley McClaine plays the tough talking, tough love grandma who raised the three sisters to be independent, yet she likes to have them do what she says. Carolina is trying to live a life as far removed from her past as she can get and still keep in touch with her family who she loves. It is the conflict between these two desires that drives her character. Should she be herself, or someone who she thinks other people would like her to be?
The movie seemingly centers on Carolina's quest to find love. She doesn't realize she might already have found it. Her best friend is a writer who lives next door to her. You pick up clues as to how the guy feels about Carolina from the beginning (i.e. his excuses as to why he still lives in an apartment next to hers when he could afford better is pretty transparent). However, the relationship realistically develops over months like a real relationship, instead of being in "movie time." As is usually the case in real life, there are a lot of ups and downs. The plot is well written so that the obstacles to their love are realistic and not just put there to artificially drive the plot.
What sets this movie apart from others of this type, and is arguably the real heart of the movie, is Carolina's connection to her family. Interwoven within the lead characters developing (or not so developing) romantic relationship are the positive and negative events that occur within her family. These events and Carolina's reaction to them influence her character, and therefore the romantic relationship. As she learns about herself with her grandmother's help, she learns more about what will make her happy in a romantic relationship. The fact that Carolina's best friend knows Carolina and her family well enough to go to all the family gatherings provides part of the pretext as to why the movie can focus so much on the family and also helps motivate the plot at times. Luckily, Carolina's relationship with her family enriches the story, rather than detracts from it, which could have easily been the case.
I would recommend this movie to anyone, but I think those who like romantic comedies, and/or tough broads like Shirley McClaine, would find it the most engaging. However, there is a little bit of everything in this movie. The actors, especially Shirly McClaine, give good performances, and the writing is funny and heartwarming without being sickly sweet. Plus, to richen the plot there are also elements of drama and tragey. Therefore, when making the sometimes dificult decision about what movie everyone in your movie-wathcing group will enjoy, you have in this movie a possible solution. You may not rent it more than once, but you will be glad you did the first time around.
stephie189 | USA | 11/07/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I didn't see any reviews or previews for this movie at all. Surprising because it was pretty good. Julia Stiles and Shirley MacLaine work well together as grandmother and granddaughter. It's a touching tale of one dysfunctional family's life. It has it's fun (and touching) moments and I would watch it again."
Could not have been played by a better person...
Christopher Berry | Hale, Michigan United States | 07/01/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"First off, I would like to say that according to imdb.com, it is said that Kathy Bates was to play the part of the Grandmother in this film...thank god they chose Shirley McLaine for this part, nothing against Ms. Bates and her talents, but after watching this movie, I could not see anyone else playing this part but Ms. MacLaine....
With that said, I have to say that this film is both funny and touching at the same time. It is a movie about two things, finding the right person, and it is about what a family is all about...we all have those family dinners that you want to get up and leave right away as soon as someone opens their mouth...and this is the way that Carolina feels as she totes her date around, trying to impress the family. What she finds later is that no matter who your family is, or where they come from, you love them just the same....a good family picture...should not be missed!!"
Dramatic wolf in romantic-comedy sheep's clothing
Doran Steele | 07/13/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Carolina stars Julia Stiles as a young woman named Carolina who has trouble finding love. Her dilemma is ironically underscored by the fact that she works for a television game show called "The Perfect Match." One day Carolina meets a handsome, rich, available Englishman on the set of the game show and she becomes romantically involved with him. Carolina doesn't notice, however, that her best friend--a handsome, eligible bachelor and her next door neighbor--is jealous of her new relationship. One of the running jokes in the film is that the best friend writes romance novels under a pseudonym--using a woman's name. Only Carolina knows his secret and there are a couple of funny scenes in which people talk to the best friend about his books without knowing that he's the author. Carolina's romance problems are further exacerbated by the existence of her eccentric family. How will her new prim and proper English boyfriend react when he meets Carolina's family?
Shirley MacLaine plays the role of Carolina's grandmother who raised Carolina and her two sisters because their dead-beat, drunkard father was not at all interested in raising them. The grandmother herself is quite a character and has unorthodox child-raising methods. In a scene from Carolina's childhood Carolina is arguing with her sister and the grandmother hands them both butcher knives and sends them out to an alley to fight out their differences. When someone questions the grandmother about her decision, she responds "don't worry, they're not that sharp." Despite the grandmother's unusual childrearing techniques, deep down she loves the kids very much. In general the depiction of Carolina's family is over the top. The butcher knife scene ends with the father showing up in the alley with Carolina's newborn youngest sister in a laundry basket. He leaves the baby on the ground for his mother to find and raise and then he drives off in his pick up truck. This Deus Ex Machina prompts the end of the knife fight, explains the introduction of a new character and demonstrates the incompetence of Carolina's father, but the father comes off as being a pathologically incompetent parent.
The biggest problem with the film Carolina is that it seems to be two different films at the same time--on the one hand it is a romantic comedy about a young woman searching for Mr. Right but overlooks her best friend who is secretly in love with her, on the other hand it is a comedy-drama about a young woman coming to terms with her extremely dysfunctional family. Mixing these two different genres could potentially work; sometimes it works in the film Carolina, sometimes it doesn't. The problem is that romantic comedies generally tend to be light and fun, but some of the dramatic scenes involving Carolina's family are serious and/or depressing--more drama than one would expect from a romantic comedy. Finally, the film has a rather abrupt ending.
This is a flawed film, but it has enough going for it to recommend it. While the combination of two different tones can be jarring at times, I think the film makers deserve credit for trying an unusual combination. However, it probably would have been a better film if they dropped the romantic comedy elements and focused more on the characters in the family. Julia Stiles is a talented actress and she is up for all of the different scenes that the script requires from her; I'm just not sure that the audience will be prepared for all of the drama in this film if the audience is expecting a straight-forward romantic comedy."