Insist Upon Yourself
Andrea Gidusko | Denver, CO USA | 12/30/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's a shame that Hillary Wolf gave up acting for Judo because she is such a spectacular actress, but Hollywood can be rough and I can't help but understand.This movie hit's close to home for those with or without a step family. You can relate to Laura Chartoff (Hillary) on some level in any part of the movie. Whether it's after her step sister Corrine (Jenny Lewis) states that she is "So drab" and she looks in the mirror and says "My body just hangs there like a boy, not even a good-looking boy. I wouldn't go out with a boy that looked like me that's the sad thing." or the way her step father Keith (David Strathairn) blames her for everything that goes wrong. There is also her father (The great actor and director Griffin Dunne) who has been married more times then he can soberly remember, his last wife (Patricia Kalember from "Sisters") left him with his three year old daughter Jessie (Jessica Seely) because he had an affair where the girl(Adrienne Shelley) became pregnant with twins or her mother (Margaret Whitton) who now treats Corrine like her real daughter in effect neglecting her REAL daughter in the process. Laura also has a half brother brainiac Sam (Ben Savage way before "Boy Meets World") After being blamed for her stepbrothers breaking of her mothers China Laura runs away with her other stepbrother, whom she thinks of as her real brother and who has left the family he despises, Josh (Dan Futterman)to the mountains the day before the rest of the family is scheduled to go to Hawaii. This causes the entire family, stepmothers brothers and all to come together in the mountains to search for the run away who eventually runs away from Josh after he called her mother and stepfather on her.Laura finds herself on her own forcing the rest of her family to stay together in one small cabin while the police look for the missing girl, which in effect causes the estranged family members to grow closer and learn to love one another again. Being on her own Laura discovers who she is and that she really does need all whacky members of her family.This movie is good for families and more and I highly recommend it to anyone who thinks their family is dysfunctional; which is practically every family on the planet."
A Meaningful Sojourn
Deborah Earle | USA | 06/10/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In this engaging serio-comedy, an intelligent-looking Hillary Wolf plays 13-year-old Laura Chartoff, the frustrated daughter of two self-absorbed much-married parents (Griffin Dunne and Margaret Whitton) who currently resides with her mother, stepfather(David Straithairn), and half-siblings,the military school student, Kurt, child prodigy Sam, and the overindulged beauty queen, Corrine (Trenton Tigen, Ben Savage, and Jenny Lewis) in a Beverly Hills mansion.
The story begins with Laura introducing her family situation via home video and narration of the events depicted in the video, and then deals with Laura's daily home situation, in which she laments the loss of her father's companionship. Currently, her artist father lives with his spacey girlfriend(Adrienne Shelley)who is pregnant with his twins, after being kicked out of the house for his affair by his schoolteacher wife, Barbara (Patrica Kalember) with whom he has a beautiful redhaired three-year-old(Jessica Seeley) who, like Laura, has also learned not to rely on him.
While Laura's mother and stepfather are out one evening, she gets a welcome respite from her lonely situation by the return of her estranged stepbrother Josh (Dan Futterman), with whom she'd had a good relationship. A series of incidents resulting from Josh's return leads to the breakage of Mrs. Powers' good china, and Laura's being blamed for it.
Hurt and sent over the edge, Laura decides to run off with Josh, who finds her in the back of his pick-up truck the next day.
The action then moves to the beautiful Yosemite Valley where Josh works at a camp resort. When the Powers family, who are irritated by Laura's waylaying their trip to Hawaii by her behavior,arrive at the camp to bring her home, Laura feels that Josh has reneged on his promise not to call her stepfather, and runs away again. Summoned by young Sam, David Chartoff and Shelley, arrive as well, as do Barbara and little Jessie.The decision to stay and find Laura is made only because the boy-crazy and shallow Corrine sees a hunk emerging from the lake and is prompted to make a phony speech about not abandoning her in her hour of need.
As the family gradually learn to put aside their differences for the sake of finding Laura, and seek the help of a seen-it-all before Sherriff and his ditzy assistant, Laura encounters a large conventional family, led by Josh Mostel. She spends time with them, but I found her glib attitude towards them to be a realistic one, taken by many children of divorced parents, and was glad to see a movie that dealt with that.
The trip to Yosemite turns out to be more meaningful than any planned trip to Hawaii would have been because the adults learn to resolve their long-held grievances, and decisions about whether or not to end certain relationships are made. As they wait for Laura, who encounters a group of hoodlums and displays her own tough side as a result of that encounter, relationships between the parents and children strenghthen. Along the way the snotty Corrine is humbled as well.
After an incident that finally brings her to tears, Laura returns to Josh's cabin to find something very special and priceless waiting for her, and she is finally given the answers about her family history that she had yearned for.In running away, she has brought her estranged family together, and she learns to value them as much as they do her."
Realistic and very funny!
Deborah Earle | 01/23/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For a while I could relate to this girl's problems and things eventually got better, but I realized how real the movie is. I know exactly how she feels! It's very funny and hard to remember all the characters, which I guess was the objective! The plot is interesting, the acting is good, the script is solid and funny, and nothing lacks around character development. Don't miss "Big Girls Don't Cry...They Get Even!""