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Abandon All 'Hope'

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 29, 1998

  Movie Critic


Hope Floats Sandra Bullock and Harry Connick Jr. star in "Hope Floats." (20th Century Fox)

Director:
Forest Whitaker
Cast:
Sandra Bullock;
Harry Connick Jr.;
Rosanna Arquette;
Gena Rowlands;
Mae Whitman;
Michael Pare;
Cameron Finley;
Kathy Najimy
Running Time:
1 hour; 54 minutes
PG-13
Children under 13 should be accompanied by a parent


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After foundering in "Speed 2: Cruise Control," Sandra Bullock tries to buoy her mildewing career in "Hope Floats." But despite its hopeful title and a warm inland location, this dawdling family dramedy proves as sodden as a bed-wetter's mattress.

Bullock, who is making her debut as a producer, plays a youngish corporate wife and mother who falls apart after learning of her husband's affair with her best friend. With no place else to turn, Birdee (Bullock), along with her precocious daughter (Mae Whitman), goes back home to sleepy, little ol' Smithville, Tex.

After moping about in an old bathrobe for much too long, Birdee sets out to reclaim her life. But first, the former prom queen must overcome the wrongs she did her fat high school classmates as well as forge a closer bond with her overbearing and eccentric mother (Gena Rowlands), cope with her father's growing dementia and her daughter's separation anxiety.

Birdee's problems grow more numerous, but not the least bit interesting, unusual or complex when a former classmate (Harry Connick Jr.) begins his persistent pursuit with the encouragement of her mother. The two discuss old times, fish and engage in other courtship rituals with the urgency of neutered clams. Will she finally come to her senses and realize that they belong together? Or will she continue to mourn her failed marriage?

Time passes, the suds thicken and the filmmakers – director Forest Whitaker of "Waiting to Exhale" and freshman writer Steven Rogers – go to increasingly melodramatic lengths to pump up this emotionally inert sobfest. They jerk tears, warm cockles, tug heart strings. And that can be very painful.

   

   
© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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