Two trends in recent "women's" movies must be stopped. The first is the scene
in which mom dances with the kids, usually in the bedroom with pillows, to some
pop song and all differences are resolved. That has never happened in real life
and, barring the influence of these films, never will. The second is having
actresses portray characters with mental disabilities by talking like Crazy
Guggenheim. It's a condescending and sentimental practice that strips them of
their dignity for the safe amusement of audiences. And it's very annoying.
The Other Sister, from Garry Marshall, who's already responsible for
debasing the image of women with Pretty Woman, is guilty of both trends.
Juliette Lewis commits the second offense as a mentally challenged woman
returning to her family home after spending time in a special school. Although
Lewis mugs and sing-songs hideously (how cute she is when she says "penis!" How
brave she is when she tells people to stop laughing at her!), she's not half as
irritating as Diane Keaton as her mother. Controlling, whiny, and suffocating,
Keaton almost seems posed as the cause of her daughter's disability, not to
mention the drinking problem and Republicanism of hubby Tom Skerritt (the best
thing in the movie).
To the rescue comes Giovanni Ribisi, who suffers from the same handicap and
acting disorder as Lewis's character (his favorite movie is The
Graduate; you wonder what he'd make of Rain Man). Their courtship is
prolonged through three holidays, two weddings, and more than two hours of
screen time; by the end I was longing for a sensitive portrait of the disabled
like There's Something About Mary.
The Other Sister
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