There are movies where the writer and director focus on the emotions of the characters. Then there are movies like this one where they make the mistake of trying to focus on the emotions of the audience, and you can almost hear them saying, “A party at the Nixon library! And an old guy who tells dirty jokes and who wants to have sex! That will make them laugh! A parent dying! That will make them cry!” But it doesn’t. It doesn’t even earn our sympathy, much less our interest. We never really care about these selfish, charmless, and superficial people. The result is formulaic, inauthentic and manipulative, despite the best efforts of an irresistible cast.
Meg Ryan, Lisa Kudrow, and Diane Keaton (who also directed) play three sisters who try to connect to each other by phone through their father’s last illness. But as the title suggests, they more often disconnect. Meg Ryan plays Eve, the classic middle child, trying desperately to bring everyone together but stressed out and resentful because her sisters are not helping her. Diane Keaton is Georgia, a sort of cross between Martha Stewart and Tina Brown. Lisa Kudrow is Maddy, a soap actress still hoping for her sisters’ approval.
Sometimes the loss of someone we love is not as painful as the loss of our hope for what that relationship could have been. The three sisters have to understand that their parents are never going to be the loving, wise, supportive people they want them to be, but that they find that elsewhere, even in each other. In the movie’s best scene, Eve meets with Ogmed Kunundar (Ann Bortolotti), the mother of the doctor whose car she has crashed into. Ogmed is just the loving, wise, and supportive mother of everyone’s dreams, and she salutes Eve for her bravery and her grief. She shows Eve the gifts that she did get from her father and gives her permission to “disconnect.” That scene just shows us that it is a real shame that that this isn’t a good movie. It tries to deal with issues that deserve better.