A popular book is reborn as a feel-good Southern chick flick
I’m a cranky middle-aged guy with a cynical streak roughly the width, length and durability of an old leather belt, so there wasn’t much chance I’d actually enjoy this truffle for the Fried Green Tomatoes crowd, but at least I didn’t find it intolerable. It’s manipulative, sure—but not in a whack-you-over-the-head, “Are-you-crying-yet?” sort of way.
Sandra Bullock is on hand as Sidda, a playwright breaking big on Broadway who, while being interviewed by Time magazine, attributes her creative drive to her upbringing under her “difficult” mother Vivi (Ellen Burstyn) and passive father (James Garner). Unfortunately for Sidda, the mother isn’t just difficult; she’s a full-blown raging alcoholic, a cracked Southern belle who immediately goes ballistic when she reads the piece.
The ensuing long-distance mother-daughter pissing contest is interrupted when Vivi’s friends Teensy, Niece and Carol fly to the Big Apple, slip Sidda a roofie, and shanghai her poor ass back to a remote shack on the Louisiana bayou. There, the trio of crusty eccentrics, with the help of a faded photo journal, reveal to Sidda the history of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, which seems to be nothing more than a drinking club for the girls and essentially a support system for Vivi, who is revealed in flashbacks to have always been a nutcase, at least since her One True Love died in “The Good War.”
After having the reasons explained to her why her mother made the lives of all those around her a living hell, Sidda decides that family is family and forgives all. Everyone smiles and claps.
Despite some odd timeline discrepancies (according to various set-pieces, the sisters should be in their mid-80s, while daughter Sidda is in her mid-30s), Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood—adapted by Mark Andrus from the Rebecca Wells bestseller—is a competent vehicle and should deliver nicely for its target audience.
And it shouldn’t be too much of an excruciating experience for the significant others who get dragged along, perhaps hoping to use this time around as a bargaining chip to see The Bourne Identity next.