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The story begins in Los Angeles when Frances Lacey (Kathy Bates) takes her six children and drives north to find a home of their own away from the bad influences of the big city. Written by
gripping story of the ups and (mostly) downs of real life
The narrator of this story is supposedly the 13 year old, oldest son of the family the film is about, and he starts out by saying it's all true. Kathy Bates plays Mrs. Lacey, the mother to 5 children, the widow of an Irish Catholic SOB, as she repeatedly refers to him. They're poor, and on a lurch, pack up and leave their dumpy apartment in L.A. for who knows where. They end up in Idaho, working for a Japanese man who's also a widow, making a home out of a shack on his land. You see (feel) the struggles of a parent, a mother, and not only that, but a single parent and mother of 5 children who has practically no money. You see the relationships between siblings and between the children and their mother. You see the resourcefulness and hard work ethic of the mother, sometimes taken too far, to the detriment of her own children (shunning the priest's attempts at helping out with free clothes or food or Christmas presents). You see the struggles of the oldest boy, a 13 year old son, taking on responsibility as the "man of the house," yet also being told to go get his father's belt for whippings from his mother. The mother finds work in a bowling alley, and you see her struggles with dating the bowling pro who works there. Every penny meant so much to them, that when their house is burning down, the oldest daughter risks her life to run inside and find the money jar, and cries on her mother when she has to tell her she couldn't find it. One of the sons discovers a junk yard on the way home on the schoolbus and ends up making many visits, scavenging various items for the house, pulling it all the way home on a make-shift wagon. As someone else already commented, the Christmas morning scene is poignant, as is the ending of the film. The ending was just another beginning, I would think, for this family.
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