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Movie Mom

Usually when a movie has a limited release with no ad support it means that test audiences hated it and the studio has decided to cut their losses. But once in a while it has nothing whatsoever to do with the quality of the film and that is the case with I Could Never Be Your Woman. The title is awful, but the script and cast are great and the movie is a quiet gem.

Michelle Pfeiffer plays Rosie, a television studio executive responsible for a sitcom called “You Go, Girl!” with a demanding star. The show’s appeal is fading and its cast has outgrown their roles — though they are still playing teenagers, most of them are married with children. In order to refresh the show and broaden its appeal, Rosie adds a new cast member, Adam (Paul Rudd), an appealing and talented young actor. He is interested in her but she is reluctant to respond because he is younger than she is and because she is still protective of her feelings following her divorce. Rosie’s relationship with Adam is endearing and appealing, but in every way the heart of the story is Rosie’s relationship with her middle-school-age daughter Izzie (Saoirse Ronan, the young girl who was nominated for an Oscar in “Atonement”). Rosie counsels Izzie about life in general and a boy in school in particular and the tenderness and understanding of that relationship is beautifully conveyed.

But it never got any support from the studio. Even the trailer doesn’t do justice to the film. It looks sit-com-y.

The movie got caught in completely unrelated financial problems at its studio and never got a real chance in theaters. I am hoping that Rudd’s recent success will inspire audiences to seek out this film. It is uneven (though I love Tracy Ullman, I would have cut her scenes as Mother Nature). But it has a deft script, smooth direction from Amy Heckerling (“Clueless”), world-class performances, and a real feeling for the mother-daughter relationship. And Pfeiffer is an extraordinary actress. This film really gives her a chance to shine as a professional, a mother, an ex-wife, and a woman who is surprised and delighted to find out that she can still be surprised and delighted. Audiences will find themselves surprised and delighted, too.

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