This Is My Life (1992) Poster

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Whimsically winning slice-of-life movie
aromatic-213 May 2002
I just watched this movie for the third time. I chose to watch it on Mother's Day because this is about as realistic a tale about mother-and-daughter bonding and growing pains as you will ever see. Julie Kavner is nothing short of amazing as Dotty, a stand-up comic from Ozone Park, Queens, waiting for her chance to make it to the big time. But, life necessitates tradeoffs. As her career takes off, Dotty is unable to spend much time with her kids who grow resentful. And with her older daughter Erica (an excellent performance by Samantha Mathis) now in the awkward early teen years, everything Dotty does is a personal embarrassment to Erica.

The direction is a bit on the claustrophobic and episodic side. Aside from experimenting with the number of different ways to show polka dots, this is not a visually impressive film, nor is it meant to be.

But on its own terms, it is sweet, warm, winning, and true.
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It would be silly to resist it
emily-gordon11 January 2004
The gritty Meg Wolitzer novel Ephron's script is based on is far darker than the cinematic end result, but that doesn't keep this movie from being a sweet, subtle and empathetic (to _all_ its characters, even the potential caricature of a paper-gnawing agent played by Dan Aykroyd) story. It's also as much of a love letter to New York as Woody Allen's "Manhattan" or "Everyone Says I Love You." This isn't a typical Ephron movie the way "Sleepless in Seattle" or "You've Got Mail" are, whatever you might think of them; it's about the genuine trauma of adolescence, the complexities of trying to be a grownup when you're still figuring yourself out, and--transcending the cliche of "the tears of a clown"--the sadness that often lurks behind the most successful lives in comedy and the sacrifices comedians make to get there. The soundtrack by Carly Simon is an extra treat. Highly recommended.
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A single mother of 2 daughters tries to make it in the world of stand-up comedy.
ltlacey28 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I do not know why this movie is rated so low. It's an endearing and funny film told to the audience from the perspective of 2 people: The mother and the eldest daughter. The mother, Dottie, played nicely by Julie Kavner, is a single mother of 2 who is working hard to support her daughters as well as to try her hand at stand-up comedy. Kavner, best known now as the voice of Marge Simpson on the TV show The Simpsons, is actually quite funny as she uses her entire body in her work. And it's nice to see someone make it in a field that seems, at least for women, to only reward those who fit a specific physical model. In this movie she's perfect. It's like the role was made for her. Samantha Mathis, as the eldest daughter Erica, plays the role of the angst-filled teenager perfectly. What to do when you love your mother so much but she causes so much grief and embarrassment? And Gaby Hoffman as the youngest, Opal, is right on, as usual. The eye rolling, the mixing up of what people said (fidgety versus frigid), and her total faith in her mother and sister ring true. Dan Aykroyd as The Moss, though his part is small, works well, especially in the the scene where Dottie is fighting with Erica and all he does is sit quietly (and maybe eat more paper!) as the "tornadoes" whoosh by. And one of the funniest scenes ever is the typical "first time" between Erica and Jordan (played so well by Danny Zorn). While this scene is happening the background music is Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet, which makes it even funnier and made me laugh so hard I almost fell on the floor, especially when it was all over and Jordan says, It's over and Erica says, It is? And a quick poll of my male friends and husband verified that the experience with the condom(s) was right on the money, even down to the facial expressions. A refreshing movie with very few flaws with a good script and a good cast.
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Charming movie portraying women as they really are.
ca9520 February 2008
A charming little movie directed and co-written by the brilliant Nora Ephron. Well drawn characters, inventive script and first-class acting throughout by an ensemble led by Julie Kavner and featuring Carrie. Fisher and Dan Aykroyd. With unusual insight and intelligence, it follows the show business career of a department store cosmetologist, would-be comedienne and single mother and the father who abandoned the children. Few films so realistically and gently portray the tensions in the lives of very good mothers and really good children as they struggle to balance the needs of school, family and career, and not always succeeding. It is easy to identify with these characters and to root for their success.
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The polka dots keep getting bigger and bigger!
This movie has a funny script by Nora and Delia Ephron, (You've Got Mail). Linda Obst (One Fine Day, Hope Floats) is the producer. The music is by Carly Simmon, which is great. Here we have all the ingredients for a good chick movie! Perhaps the lack of box office success it had was because of timing. It was released before Nora and Delia, and Obst were really known in the industry. If it was released today, it would get all the attention. It a really good movie.

Dottie Ingels, Julie Kavner (Forget Paris, Jake's Women) is a single parent. She has two daughters, Erica Ingels, Samantha Mathis (Little Women, The American President) and Opal Ingels, Gaby Hoffmann (Sleepless in Seattle). They live with their Aunt Martha Ingels, Caroline Aaron (Deconstructing Harry ) until Martha dies and leaves them the house which they sell. Dottie can now pursue her dream of becoming a stand up comedian. Aunt Martha had died while she was shopping, she literally shopped until she dropped. No one could figure out which outfit was really hers and as the body went out of the store the alarm went off because the outfit still had the price tag on. Erica plays the critical teenager growing up with a somewhat realistic but by the same token negative view on things. Opal is the little one always trying to cheer things up. The kids are absolutely adorable. Their dialogue makes me laugh! They keep saying: did too, did not, did too, did not? Dottie wears those off-beat outfits, all polka dots. They are small at the beginning of the movie and their get bigger as she gets more famous. Favorite quotes:" Don't chew you hair, sweetheart". Life lesson: Everyone in the world is two phone calls from everyone else in the world you just need to know who the phone calls are." "Sometimes the audience was so dead that they were wearing toe tags." "Dad said that we were going to fidgety like mom...Opal says. Later Erica says it is not fidgety like mom. It is frigid. Opal: do you think that mom is cold in bed"? I recommend this fun movie. It is a feel good movie. I enjoyed watching it.
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Only Has One Good Subplot, Other Than That It Blows
fandangonoir3 October 2000
This is a not so good flick about an aspiring and unfunny stand up comedienne. There is a great little subplot involving the Sam Mathis character and her dopey boyfriend. Ending in a very funny and daring love scene. I would have like to have seen a whole film about the Sam Mathis daughter character and the boyfriend instead. The rest of the film, the script, direction, etc. are the just awful.
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She's not actually funny
SnoopyStyle26 July 2014
Single mom Dottie Ingels (Julie Kavner) sells cosmetics in a department store and dreams of being a big comedian on the Tonight Show. She lives in Queens with her two daughters Erica (Samantha Mathis) and Opal (Gaby Hoffmann) in Aunt Harriet's house. When Aunt Harriet died leaving everything to Dottie, she sells everything to move to NYC. She works her way in small bars. She gets Arnold Moss (Dan Aykroyd) as her agent or at least his assistant Claudia Curtis (Carrie Fisher). She starts traveling and the girls are left at home.

The big problem is that I don't find Julie Kavner funny in this or that she has a funny act. This movie is desperate for somebody with standup experience. She needs an act that is actually funny. Samantha Mathis is playing an Annie Hall type as a teenager. The standup life seems so unrealistic. If I could ignore her standup, this could be a cute Nora Ephron movie especially considering that this is her directorial debut. It would be much better to concentrate on Erica's POV which has the possibility of skipping more of the mom's act.
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This is My Life-Tribute to Women Stand Up Comedians ***
edwagreen18 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Julie Kavner of the "Rhoda" television show is just wonderful here. She is basically a Jewish Phyllis Diller who gains fame at the same time she neglects her daughters.

This film is really a tribute to the women who became stand up comics years before.

As we see in so many films, success has its disadvantages as well, as both young girls leave in a frenzy to seek out the father who abandoned them years before. After seeing him, they realize that a mother is still a mother.

Carly Simon sings the background music throughout the film and she is an absolute treat to hear.
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This movie is a funny look at balancing family and career!
STLmoviewatcher11 September 2012
I loved this movie when it first came out, and the 3 or 4 times that I have seen it since then. I really identified with the single mom with two kids trying to balance life and work. I was doing the same thing then! It reminded me that if you can find something funny about a difficult time in your life, you may be more able to get through it. Family is everything to Dottie and her kids, and the still unresolved issues at the end are fine, since life usually just continues and not every problem can be resolved at the same time. I recommend this movie to anyone who is trying to balance family and a career and a love life! It made me cry and laugh at the same time!
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Just, no.
Jadn17 October 2008
Mix every cliché known to cinema, add a dash of sub-par acting, and cringe every 7 seconds. Lather, rinse, repeat. The plot is weak, the characters are self centered, immature and dense. Also, completely static. The soundtrack... who decides on things like this? They should be banished. The moral of this story is something everyone over the age of six already knows, and at best it is just a simple reminder, nothing fantastic. You might as well watch the hallmark channel. Its only saving point was getting to hear Marge Simpson the entire time, and afterward you will want to drown this movie with the first six seasons. Everything, literally everything, ends unresolved as the movie comes to a close. The climax, breakdown, and ending happen in the last ten minutes of film. Boring, unnecessary secondary characters fall off without a trace after they serve the bleak purpose of providing a few one liners a crap screenplay writer couldn't fit into the actual premise otherwise. The budget was small to begin with, and when the money ran out, everyone threw their hands up in the air and threw together a few sure-fire movie tactics for endings, and the happiness of its last few scenes temporarily overshadow the hour and a half crapfest, and if your lucky, those feelings may just last long enough to make you forget about it.
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