First-time writer-director Helen Hunt stars as April Epner, a schoolteacher desperate to have a child before she turns 40 (Hunt herself turns 45 this year, but never mind that). Adapted by Hunt and two other writers from Elinor Lipman’s novel, it’s a not surprisingly confident debut; Hunt directs like she acts—straightforward and without humor, even when she’s meant to be funny. Which is probably why this plays like such an odd hybrid: a sitcom pilot rendered as Lifetime melodrama and starring the likes of Matthew Broderick (as her husband and, no kidding, an irresistible man-child), Colin Firth (as the single-dad love interest), and Bette Midler (as the famous mother who gave Hunt’s character up for adoption when she was a year old). Broderick’s broad, doughy, and dopey—not at all believable as The Guy Everyone Wants to Fuck. But Firth’s terrific, and Midler’s, well, Midler—you keep expecting her to break into song. Even if you didn’t know who directed going in, you’d know coming out; Hunt gives herself more close-ups than Norma Desmond (and Barbra Streisand—no small feat). In short, it’s the kind of film that only a mother, which is to say my mother, would love.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 22, 2008