Self-esteem and insecurity are at the heart of this comedy about the relationship between a mother and her three confused daughters.


Nicole Holofcener
3 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Troy Ruptash ... Photographer (voice)
Emily Mortimer ... Elizabeth Marks
Brenda Blethyn ... Jane Marks
Raven Goodwin ... Annie Marks
Catherine Keener ... Michelle Marks
Ileen Getz ... Saleswoman
Kristen Dalton ... Saleswoman
Romy Rosemont ... Dr. Debbie Waldman
Aunjanue Ellis ... Lorraine
Brooke Allison ... Pool Administrator
Jennifer Zehnder Jennifer Zehnder ... Teased Girl
James Le Gros ... Paul
Ashlynn Rose ... Maddy
Clark Gregg ... Bill
Dreya Weber ... Donna


The Marks family is a tightly-knit quartet of women. Jane is the affluent matriarch whose 3 daughters seem to have nothing in common except for a peculiar sort of idealism. Setting the tone of vanity and insecurity, Jane is undergoing cosmetic surgery to alter her figure, but serious complications put her health in real danger. Former homecoming queen Michelle, the eldest daughter, has one daughter of her own and an alienated, unsupportive husband. Elizabeth, the middle sister, has an acting career that is beginning to take off, but is timid and insecure, and habitually relieves her trepidation by taking in stray dogs. Only the youngest sister, Annie, an adopted African American 8-year-old, stands a chance of avoiding the family legacy of anxious self-absorption. If only her intelligence and curiosity will see her through what promises to be a confusing adolescence. Each of the women seeks redemption in her own haphazard way. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


If you're hoping for the perfect family don't hold your breath.


Comedy | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The screenplay has an autobiographical slant in that Nicole Holofcener has an adopted black brother. Catherine Keener's character has an adopted black sister in the film. See more »


When Michelle is berating her mother for giving Annie cookies & Annie is standing in the doorway with the cookies, she has a stack of cookies in one hand in one shot, and in the next shot they are in the other hand, and there are more of them. See more »


Michelle Marks: Hi. I'd like to apply for the job.
Jordan: [laughs] No way.
Michelle Marks: Why not?
Jordan: You look like my mom.
Michelle Marks: [pause] If I haven't developed pictures before, will somebody train me?
Jordan: I will.
Michelle Marks: Don't look at me like that. You just said I look like your mom.
Jordan: My mom's cute.
Michelle Marks: [pause] Can I have this job or not? Who do I have to talk to?
Jordan: My dad owns this place. Aren't you going to give me a smile or something?
See more »


Referenced in Dinner for Five: Episode #2.13 (2003) See more »


Parts & Accessories
Written and Performed by Josh Rouse
Courtesy of Rykodisc
See more »

User Reviews

A study of self-loathing does not make for a sympathetic movie
4 November 2003 | by trpdeanSee all my reviews

I had read two glowing reviews of this movie - but this is the sort of movie that requires you to be in sympathy with the characters. And it's a failure. I liked only one of the characters (the mother), simply pitied another (the eight year old girl), found one tiresome (the middle sister) and another (the eldest) hateful.

One of the most striking things about this movie is how easily some without any struggle for life can find ways to make themselves miserable: by cursing strangers, committing rape, behaving abominably toward their family, agonizing over a slight setback in a career -- or loathing their race or body.

What a study of self-obsession this movie is - and it makes it impossible to care about these characters.

When one character is arrested by the police, of course our feeling is relief, we feel "throw the book at her - make her serve decades in prison" and yet I'm not sure the director wanted the audience to experience such loathing of a character whose awful conduct we've been forced to watch for so long.

There's absolutely no consideration of others shown by these characters - whether it is a woman fornicating with a stranger just after she has supposedly had a difficult break-up (so we assume that she is lying that she ever cared for the person - particularly since we aren't shown at all she cared - but why IS she lying?)

-- or a wife raping a young boy --

or another calling a complete stranger a "pig".

In fact, one of the striking things about these characters is how frequently these well-off people call strangers names - "bitch" and "bastard" and "pig" and "repulsive".

If one index of whether a character is likable is that they care for others, it is only the older woman (and to some extent the 8 year old) who appear to give any thought at all to making others happier. From the others, we see only lust and vanity and self-loathing, anger and ambition. I'd never want to run into any member of the younger generation of these characters. They're just loathsome. Yet if a viewer reacts this way to them, it feels that he or she won't like the movie.

In fact, I find it a quite depressing thing that some reviewers do feel the characters represent them!

It's also terribly tedious and slow.

I had happily anticipated this - and hated it.

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Release Date:

2 August 2002 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Untitled Nicole Holofcener See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA


Box Office


$250,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$91,910, 30 June 2002

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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