By George Rose
October 30, 2009
This is one of those movies I remember my whole family enjoying together. Because of the era, it's enjoyable for adults, and because of the film's tone, music, characters, and stars, it's enjoyable for the younger generations. I'm actually disappointed it didn't do better at the box office, but I guess this type of movie doesn't usually break records. It's sort of a musical, sort of a faux-biopic of a band that never really existed; neither genre does particularly well unless it's about a more well known brand, which The Wonders is not. Still, it should be worth your time. It's a Tom Hanks movie, for Pete's sake. That man is a movie legend and for good reason; this was his writing/directing debut and it sits at 91% on RottenTomatoes. Is there anything he can't do?
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (2002)
This is much less peppy than That Thing You Do!, so if you're looking for a lighthearted film throughout you should look elsewhere. Don't be mistaken, though, there are still plenty of laughs behind this bestseller-turned-movie. Based on the book of the same name, this story is about a writer named Sidda (Sandra Bullock), whose erratic mother, Vivi (Ellen Burstyn), goes crazy after Sidda writes an article describing her troubled youth. Vivi's best friends, known as the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, take it into their own hands to reconcile the women and, in the process, share the divine secrets of the group's past in an attempt to prove Vivi's mood-swings stem from a troubled past of her own.
With such an estrogen-filled story and multi-generational characters, it should come as no surprise that there are weepy moments. I myself did not cry, which I have been known to do, but there are still heavy emotions to be felt and lessons to be learned. Making them all the easier to handle are the wise-cracking Ya-Ya's, women who have handled their troubled pasts a bit more appropriately and use laughter (and Bloody Marys) to move past the pain. Though the plot may be much for men to handle, the cast makes it a must-see for anyone who enjoys following actors' careers; great performances are given from the two leads and all supporters, including James Garner, Ashley Judd, Angus Macfadyen, and Maggie Smith, among others.
I know as a man I'm probably expected to recommend tons of action movies and whatnot, but I enjoy my female-driven dramas enough to throw the ladies out there a recommendation or two. Who am I kidding? I'd watch Sandra Bullock in just about anything, like Tom Hanks. I even paid to see Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous. I didn't like it much, but not every movie is great because of the writing. Just like sports, sometimes you aren't pleased with what you saw but enjoyed it anyway because of the idols you enjoy following. Sandra is one of those idols for me and, in all honesty, she's made much worse than Divine Secrets. If you think it's really that bad, go watch All About Steve. It will give you newfound appreciation for the Ya-Ya's.