In 1942 in the Bronx, Evelyn Kurnitz has just passed away following a lengthy illness. Her husband, Eddie Kurnitz, needs to take a job as a traveling salesman to pay off the medical bills incurred, and decides to ask his stern and straight talking mother, from who he is slightly estranged, if his two early-teen sons, Jay and Arty (who their Grandma call by their full given names, Yakob and Arthur), can live with her and their Aunt Bella Kurnitz in Yonkers. She reluctantly agrees after a threat by Bella. Despite their Grandma owning and operating a candy store, Jay and Arty don't like their new living situation as they're afraid of their Grandma, and find it difficult to relate to their crazy Aunt Bella, whose slow mental state is manifested by perpetual excitability and a short attention span, which outwardly comes across as a childlike demeanor. Into their collective lives returns one of Eddie and Bella's other siblings, Louie Kurnitz, a henchman for some gangsters. He is hiding out ... Written by
This movie is an excellent screen adaptation of a great play. Instead of being hokey or sentimental, the story provides a candid portrayal of a family in crisis, as each family member is forced to deal with issues that have long repressed. Essentially, the story centers around the relationship between an overbearing mother, performed magnificently by Irene Worth, and her confused daughter, played by Mercedes Ruehl. Ms. Ruehl's performance is a tour-de-force. She completely dominates this movie. The climactic scene between the mother and daughter is both poignant and powerful, and raises this movie to the level of great cinema and drama. Richard Dreyfuss also gives a strong performance as the brother with the bravado but also with a heart. This movie should be a must-watch for anyone who likes screen adaptations of plays and for people in general who like strong drama.
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