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Where have all the Good Movies gone? Here's one!
clive-1313 January 2006
Wonderful family drama/comedy starring MacClaine and Garr that entertains and warms the heart every time I see it. Strongly recommended for all ages from 9 year olds to grannies. Lovely period piece capturing 1962. The story encompasses the struggling Garr, her two children and Aunt Zena (MacClaine) trying to make ends meet without a man as head of the household. The "family" heads west to take the inheritance of a long forgotten relative that has left Garr a run down, ramshackle road side cafe right out of the late 1940's. The tenacious Garr, as the sweet but determined mom, gets the whole family into the restoration and opening of the cafe. But wait......Aunt Zena is an old circus performer with card tricks, magic powders and a jesters sense of humor......she loves to get the kids and her into silly and sometimes dangerous games.....What happens next is a delightful combination of "Miracle at Lords" thrown together with the Cuban missile crises (with authentic TV news from the real event) and a "ghost" prank that gets totally out of hand. This film entertains, philosophizes, questions religiosity and gives an unnerving glimpse of the frightening scare of October 1962's Cuban missile crises. In the end one is left with the wonder of faith, family and rediscovered love. Oh, and the music from the era of the early 60's is just great!

Recommend STRONGLY as a FEEL GOOD FILM 10 out 10
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Sloppy but fun
moonspinner5514 November 2001
Shirley MacLaine is a hoot playing dippy aunt to her young niece and nephew, all of whom delight in playing tricks on people...but with the country on edge in the early 1960s, one of their pranks on a nasty neighbor is misconstrued as a sign from Heaven! Minor but pleasant confection, the kind of piffle that defies criticism (it's like a happy house of cards--one little knock and it collapses). Teri Garr (always nice to have around) isn't given much to do, but MacLaine seems to be having a high time. The final moments are frenetic and should've been smoother, but on the whole the picture is quite colorful and enjoyable. **1/2 from ****
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Uplifting and fun!
DeeDee-1010 March 1999
With two of my favorites, Shirley MacLaine and Teri Garr, this film couldn't go wrong. Serendipity plays a large part in the transformation of the character's lives, especially the eccentric neighbor who terrifies Garr's kids. MacLaine keeps getting better and better with juicy roles like this one. It's light-hearted comedy, perfect for viewing at the end of the day with friends or family.
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MacLaine delivers another magical comedy-drama
mdm-1116 April 2005
Shirley MacLaine in another tailor-made role. As the aunt to a single mom in a 1962 working-class Chicago neighborhood, the veteran character actress gets another work-out as a gutsy woman who won't let any set-backs defeat her spirit of success. The children, a pre-teen boy and girl, are drawn to their spirited Aunt Zoe, although the many magic tricks and practical jokes learned from her, and applied at all the wrong opportunities eventually get them expelled from school.

The plot is cleverly enveloped in the Cuban Missile Crisis, with all of the social implications. Men building bomb shelters, people watching news programs on what seemed to be the only TV set, at a diner, and a general mist of uneasiness and fear in the air. When a "harmless" miracle is blown out of proportions, the climactic conclusion nonetheless makes the viewer feel good. Yes, Virginia, the sun will come up tomorrow! Clearly a small-budget production, this is still a sweet little film, filled with the magic that Sunday Matinees were made of. With a few choice "Oldies" thrown into an effective Sound Track, the whole family is sure to enjoy this one.****
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Mixed feelings -- a "7" (barely)
vincentlynch-moonoi17 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Is this a great movie? No. Is it fun to relive that golden age when we all thought we were going to be bombed into oblivion during the Cuban Missile Crisis...well, actually, yes. But that's really about the extent of this film -- kinda fun, but not memorable.

Shirley MacLaine plays an old vaudeville magician with 2 grandkids and her daughter (Teri Garr). Due to poverty and the inheritance of a run-down diner, they move to the sticks, only to meet up with some rural hicks that can't quite tell the difference between carnival tricks and an angel. Quite predictably, MacLaine's character falls ill at an opportune moment, providing a little suspense to the film. The ending is a muddle: Lightning hits a jar of phosphorus setting a tree on fire, Shirley MacLaine comes out of her coma/paralysis pretty well, and the Cuban Missile Crisis is over. Huh? I like Shirley MacLain, and although this plot sort of fits her recent history, she's just middling here. Same for Garr. Vincent Schiavelli, a unique character actor, deserves the most credit here. The two child actors here -- with their key roles -- are adequate, at best.

This film barely held my attention, but I couldn't quite hit the delete button. Barely recommended.
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Bad Memories of this movie
amcfan842 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Our teacher showed us this movie in first grade. I haven't seen it since. I just watched the trailer though. Does this look like a first grade movie to you? I don't think so. I was so horrified by this movie, I could barely watch it. It was mainly the scene with Shirley McClain cutting that little girl in half, and then there was the boy with ketchup! I was freaked out by this film. Now today, being 20, I probably would not feel that way. I just wanted to share my experience and opinion that maybe small children shouldn't see this movie, even though it's PG. Be aware of the possible outcomes of showing this to kids. I don't even remember what it was about, once was enough!
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celebrating superstition and stupidity
mjneu5914 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Teri Garr plays a single mother trying to guard her two rambunctious children against the mischievous influence of her Aunt Zena (Shirley MacLaine), but what begins as a mild and amusing slice of early '60s nostalgia develops, instead, into an unbelievable fantasy-spoof of born-again religious hysteria. A misfired practical joke is the catalyst, fooling an unsuspecting town into believing a heavenly visitation has occurred. That single plot twist then leads to even more contrived comic misunderstandings until, after every shred of credibility has been exhausted, each separate conflict is resolved by a well-aimed bolt of lightning: saving the kids, curing MacLaine's heart condition, inspiring the town, and (believe it or not) ending the Cuban Missile Crisis. The point of all this is unclear, except perhaps to lampoon the credulity of rural town folk, in which case writer-director Christopher Monger's intended satire has no teeth. Even the most gullible hayseed isn't this stupid, and by relying on a timely deus ex machina climax Monger seems to be embracing the same blind faith he should have been poking fun at.
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