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Hanging Up

movie review out of 4 Movie Review: Hanging Up

Starring: Lisa Kudrow, Meg Ryan
Director: Diane Keaton
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 92 Minutes
Release Date: February 2000
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Jesse James, Diane Keaton, Cloris Leachman, Walter Matthau, Tracee Ellis Ross, Adam Arkin, Ashley Edner

Review by Susan Granger
1½ stars out of 4

No doubt, Columbia Pictures and the producers wanted this to be a baby-boomers' version of The First Wives Club; i.e.: a wise, witty chick's flick about three blonde, beautiful sisters coping with their sibling rivalry while dealing with their philandering old father who's suffered a minor stroke. But something went wrong from the script to the screen. What's left is an overdose of cheery cute. Meg Ryan's perky as ever as the sensible middle sister, a party planner whose motto is "No surprises." Which puts her in direct conflict with Walter Matthau, her charming, curmudgeonly dad who not only drinks too much but loves to surprise women by pinching their posteriors. Diane Keaton's the hip, super-successful, self-involved older sister, while Lisa Kudrow's the youngest, a ditsy, semi-successful TV actress on one of those daytime hospital dramas. Adapted by Delia Ephron from her 1995 novel, co-scripted by sister Nora Ephron, and directed by Diane Keaton, its title comes from the family's addiction to cell phones which are annoying enough in real life but become unbearable on the screen. Delia Ephron reveals, "I live half my life in the real world and half on the telephone" - and that cliche-filled, whiny jabbering is the premise of the story. There's also some metaphysical connection between hanging up the phone and disconnecting yourself from your problems. But the movie is uneven in pace and tone. Sometimes it's goofy, concentrating on quirky, if banal, verbal sibling encounters; at other times, it goes for pathos - what with dad's dying. Predictably, ultimately, there's reconciliation and redemption. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Hanging Up is a flimsy, floundering 4. Be thankful you don't share the phone gene in this family's DNA - nor their frenzied phoniness.

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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