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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

A "charming" film

Author: (skybird1218)
11 October 2003

I don't know how I missed this gem of a movie when it was first aired, but I've finally made up for that. I thought it was a terrific little film, and I liked it a lot. Gena Rowlands is superb, as usual, and the story line, though on the slow moving side, held my interest from start to finish. When I first saw it I came in at the middle, but got hooked right away, and stayed with it until the end. I just watched the complete film, today, and my opinion has not changed. Direction and cinematography wee excellent, and the performances, especially Miss Rowlands', were admirable. I felt I was a part of these ladies' lives, and I don't ask much more than that from a film. As some people say, I thought it "worth the price of admission."

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A Delightful Novel Turned Into a Boring Movie

Author: olliewim from USA
11 August 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

***Couple of spoilers***

I was very interested in this movie when I saw it was going to be on cable. Charms For the Easy Life is one of my favorite books, and easily one of the funniest novels I've ever read. And when I saw that Gena Rowlands was going to play Charlie Kate, I was even more pleased, since I think she is a terrific actress.

In almost every way, I was disappointed in this film. First and most importantly, the screenplay is beyond stupid. I don't think the writer even GOT most of the jokes in the novel. And the choices of what to leave in and what to take out from the novel, leaves so many unexplained plot turns that if you haven't read the book, I think you would spend most of the movie trying to puzzle it out. E.g., Charlie Kate and Margaret reading The Yearling outside the theatre, and Charlie Kate announcing that "the deer dies." Very funny in the novel, makes absolutely no sense in the movie. To paraphrase Margaret, everything in the world happens in the novel, and practically nothing happens in the movie.

Secondly I though Mimi Rogers was an appalling choice as Sophia. In the novel Sophia is a borderline manic depressive (a beautiful, brilliant and charming manic depressive, though.) Mimi Rogers hasn't got any of that intensity. If only Holly Hunter were taller.

Thirdly although I do love Gena Rowlands, she also is just too SERENE as Charlie Kate. In the novel CK is usually shouting and barking at people. In the movie, the worst Gena does is sort of growl. Although she was definitely held back by her moronic lines. The vanquishing of the "real doctor" was a high point of the novel, here it is turned into something so stooped...again, why would the doctor just suddenly show up at her house in tears, confessing his career-ending mistake? That just doesn't make any sense at all. In the novel CK has to blackmail him, which just shows how fearless she is. And the scene ends with him just asking to mope in her house for a bit, and she tells him "Take all the time you need." I believe that scene ending would get an "F" in a screenplay writing class, which is where I think they must have found the doofus who penned this.

Finally (although this is minor compared to the rest), the guy they chose to play Tom Hawkins...there was absolutely nothing "aw shucks" about Tom in the novel, and in the movie, he comes off as Andy Rooney's dopey (but very handsome) sidekick. And we're supposed to believe he's reading The Magic Mountain?

I did think the girl chosen to play Margaret was perfect, and she did the best she could with the meandering plot and boring characterizations. We just need to get it remade with her as Margaret again, but Shirley McClaine as CK, Holly Hunter as Sophia, and Joaquin Phoenix as Tom. And let's get Kaye Gibbons to adapt her novel herself...she knows where all kicks are.

And if you haven't read Charms for Easy Life, drive right past Blockbuster to the book store and pick it up. This is one of the best books ever. :)

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

I've seen better.

5/10
Author: alpalmer from Canada
3 January 2005

I think the director and writer(s) meant well, but this film seems to fall a bit flat. Gena Rowlands is excellent as CK, however, Mimi Rogers is dreadfully overdone. The best performance of the production is Susan May Pratt as Margaret. Her youth and freshness shine through, and my interest in her life and ideas was caught. It seemed that she had far more spirit than her mother, and was more of a match for her grandmother. Though I have not read the book, I would like to.

If you can catch this film on cable, or rent the DVD, it is worth it. That being said, if it had been released in the theatre, it wouldn't have been worth the $12 admission.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Charlie Kate, Medicine Woman

6/10
Author: jotix100 from New York
4 August 2004

Joan Micklin Silver, the director of this film has done better before. She must have been attracted to the material. The novel was much better, as usually is the case when the adaptation is from a book and not from a short story.

The film is pleasant to watch, but it seems hollow in parts. Charlie Kate was a determined woman; she gets rid of a husband that is a waste and sets up a domestic practice to help everyone that is sick. She had an innate sense for healing, as the man who she saves from being lynched tells her at the beginning of the film.

Gena Rowlands is good as the indomitable Charlie Kate. When she has good material, this actress excels. The surprise of the film is without a doubt, Mimi Rogers, an actress that is far superior than others of her generation. Unfortunately, she doesn't get what she deserves. The rest of the cast is good too.

This is a nostalgic look of America in the early 40s.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Very tidy…

Author: plumberguy66 from United States
21 August 2002

I just caught Charms for an Easy Life on cable the other night and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. I love Gena Rowlands anyway and she was perfectly cast as a rather grumpy, old, yet lovable, mother, grandmother and caregiver. But I was most impressed with Mimi Rogers. This was just a great vehicle for her and she shined as a middle-aged mother seeking new companionship. Susan May Pratt was cast well as the daughter of Mimi that is has a tendency to conspire with her grandmother. This was such a sweet and heartfelt story and I just ate it up. It was predictable, yes, but it was touching nonetheless. I don't think it was a ‘chick flick'. I'm not a ‘chick' and I enjoyed it. I liken it to Little Women and Emma. I believe it would be appreciated by anyone that enjoyed those titles. A real treat. My thoughts. Yours?

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

loving and emotional

10/10
Author: jeny1130 from United States
2 January 2006

I fell in love with his film. I came across it by accident and once I saw who was in it I knew it would be good but I had no idea how good. I love Charlie Kates she is so wonderful and they could not have found a better actress to play her. She was the perfect person in this role and brought it to life as I watched her I felt as though I was watching my grandmother. I also felt this was one of Mimi rogers best parts. But I especially love the relationships between them. They were realistic and true to the way women handled things. I loved this film it has become one of my favorite's. This film is full of emotion and great chemistry with the cast. The scenery is beautiful and works well with the story nothing was overdone or underdone.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Delightfully charming!

10/10
Author: tlbmrb from Charleston, SC
8 April 2004

The details within the scope of the camera of this film captured an era in which women finally could speak out and not fear being oppressed by men. These three women held a bond which, by today's standard, is cherishable and unique. The script may be old fashion as to leave out the noise and tongue lashings that the audience my only imagine but it also embraces the warmth and love that is special to close knit families. Today's families should see this movie to demonstrate that you can talk back at a certain age and it is alright to ask questions and there should be nothing private inside a family. "Garlic Toast for Breakfast" would not suit as an appropriate title. It is what I will remember.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Lovely adaptation of a fabulous novel

8/10
Author: flamingo1706 from The Southern United States
28 February 2007

No offense to anyone who reads this, but I sometimes wonder if it helps to be from the South when viewing films adapted from Southern writers. I thought this was a lovely film -- faithful to the novel as possible. Gena Rowlands is stunning as Charlie Kate. Less strident than in the novel, but flamingly over-the-top characters like Charlie Kate, in my opinion, can easily come off overdone in film, whereas on the written page or even on the stage they are in their glory. These women were stereotypes and predictable as are many characters in Southern literature, that is if you are familiar with the "categories" into which Southerners, especially women, are divided -- especially by Southerners. Mimi Rogers was wonderful as Sophia, a woman bound by the "rules" of Southern society (in spite of or perhaps because of her unorthodox mother and upbringing). But at the same time Sophia is equally entranced by the words of John Steinbeck as she is by a new hat and Rogers portrays this very real duality beautifully. Susan Mae Pratt, an overlooked young actress, was perfect as Margaret, another Southern stereotype, well-mannered and proper, but not slavish like her mother, with a highly developed intellect like both of the women who raised her, confident in many things, but shy in others -- such as leaving home and with men, from whom she has been relatively isolated. I find her "we just knew" relationship with Tom completely believable and his Christmas gift to Margaret of "all his teasures" is truly one of the most romantic gestures in literature. I begin to ramble -- But as one reviewer commented, some of the funniest bits may be missed as well as some of the traditional bits that flavor the film. Unless you know that if the Bible Belt had saints, Margaret Mitchell and in turn David O. Selznick would be two of them, thus the incredible shock value of Charlie Kate's dislike of "Gone With the Wind." And unless you know the reverence held for Douglas Southall Freeman and his voluminous works on Robert E. Lee, thus Charlie Kate's immediate softening and acceptance of Richard upon his perfect Christmas gift. And unless you know that Southern women smoked, a lot, just NEVER on the street and unless you realize that only life and death could make even Charlie Kate leave the house without her hat, well..... It is impossible to include the detail and background necessary to catch all the nuances of the novel in movie form, so it may fall a little flat for you. Personally, I've made myself want to watch it again! Garlic toast anyone?

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Charming

10/10
Author: hershykissed26 from United States
12 June 2004

This movie was delightful and full of great actresses. Gena Rowlands is always a class act and this role as a Doctor was perfect for her. These 3 generations of women conquer all that life deals them with grace, style and poise. The story was great. I would like to buy this on DVD if it becomes available. The lives these women lead which revolves around the men that have done terrible things to them and how they deal with it is amazing. I would watch this movie a dozen times if I had access to it. It's great to see women in such important roles.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Warm and humorous tale of three very different women

10/10
Author: escaped from USA
24 September 2002

I enjoyed the gentle humor that pervades this movie and the way in which these three women with totally different personalities interacted with tolerance, love and support despite their differences and the eccentricities of Gena Rowland's character. Mimi Rogers was very funny and Susan May Pratt very compelling and appealing as the sensible and sensitive granddaughter.

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