The film is off to a good start with Garbage’s song ‘Stupid Girl’ played against a titles sequence which is an efficient exposition and set-up. There’s a reasonable choice of pop songs thereafter, but the original music, by Mark Isham, is generally made up of dreadful piano noodling.

This is a great role for Cameron Diaz.  She’s a good actor, and getting better on the evidence of this film.  The scene where she does an audition for MTV is amazing.  Her face tells what’s going on in her head, and it is a wonderful piece of work – up to Toni Collette’s standard, and that is saying something.

Toni is also wonderful, though at times just a little too strained.  She has to laugh and cry a lot in this role, and Toni is the master of both.  But it can move into schtick if she’s not careful.  She nearly always avoids that here (nearly).  And she gets to say the classic line: ‘I like to treat myself. Clothes never look any good.  Food just makes me fatter. Shoes always fit.’

As if these two performances weren’t enough, this film also gives us Shirley MacLaine, who is marvellous. Her tight mouth speaks volumes about a woman who has had to keep her personal life on ice for years. On top of that, we get a cameo by Norman Lloyd (once a member of Orson Welles’ Mercury theatre, and himself a bit of a legend). And speaking of cameos, Mrs Lefkowicz  is a hoot. Frances Beer(?) almost steals the show.  And I notice she likes to watch the World Poker Tour (my favourite TV show) and she has a WPT Cap (where can I get one?).

The clever script and crisp direction by Curtis Hanson make this film a small gem, clever and moving as well. With a lot to say about the complexity of being a family member.  The two sisters are terribly cruel to each other.  Toni (as Rose) calls her sister Maggie ‘Pretty but dumb’. Maggie responds with ‘Fat pig’.  Rose asks her if that’s the best she can do.  Brrr!

A couple of other lines I loved were:
I’m a bit suspicious of the Florida location shots.  Why would a sign say ‘Deerfield Beach, Florida’ (why say Florida?).  I thought it looked like the main train station in LA. Minor quibble that amused me.  I could be wrong.

Other than the music, the only other weakness I found in the film was that, in my opinion, there is no logic to Rose’s character thinking that the only thing holding her together is having people to please & tasks to finish.  There are much better reasons for hating being a lawyer.  I should know.