Kelly and Evelyn Ryan live in Defiance, Ohio with their 10 children. At first glance their life seems idyllic; they call each other "Mother" and "Father" and seem to dote on the kids. But Kelly was a garage-band crooner whose voice was ruined in an auto accident. He's resigned to a dead-end factory job that barely pays the bills, and is given to fits of alcohol-induced rage. Evelyn, a stay-at-home wife and mother, deals with this abuse by appealing to her priest, who is no help at all. She deals with their poverty by entering the jingle contests that were the rage in the 50's and early 60's, even sending in multiple entries in the names of the children. She is very clever at it, winning more than her share of prizes, but her successes aren't enough to keep the wolf from the door. Further, they trigger Kelly's insecurities and he retreats deeper into the bottle, using food and mortgage money to support the habit. Can the loving, optimistic Evelyn hold the family together? Is she ...Written by
The decision to have Evelyn (Julianne Moore) talk directly to camera was inspired by television commercials from the 1950s, which used that technique frequently. See more »
At one point, the characters watch an actual clip from an actual Miss America pageant in which emcee Bert Parks asks a contestant about that year's presidential election. But shortly afterward, a sequence is identified as occurring in May 1960. Because the Miss America contest was always held (at that time) in September, this clip would have to be been from an earlier pageant (probably 1959) - which was not an election year. See more »
Don't mean to be too exuberant, BUT this was a heart-warming movie. Woody Harrelson is perfect in his pathetic role as loser. (Consider "Palmetto" and "The Money Train.") He is a winner at this type of role. Yet, in his portrayal of this father of a large family and the husband of a "stand by your man" and "look to the sunny side of life" woman. Woody manages to evoke our pity and makes us reach for understanding. A terrific supporting role.
Julianne Moore, the star of the movie, is the heroine, the mainstay who keeps everything together. Never been out of her little town of Defiance, Ohio(it's real, look it up!) until one of her daughters drives her to Goshen, Indiana. What an adventure! 100 miles from home. A different state, even though its hard to tell. This daughter is the story teller, the author of the best selling book that became a movie. She captures the 1950s, the silly excitement of writing a catchy commercial phrase, and the heroism and humor of a large family growing up in an era long gone.
It will not be a blockbuster. Opening night, which we wouldn't have missed, was in a large, mostly vacant theatre. Everyone clapped their approval at the close. I'm guessing that most of us had read the book before going.
If you're one of those who haven't read the book, don't worry about it. The movie is like a "To Kill A Mockingbird," in that it captures the book beautifully. (Doesn't deny you the pleasure that comes from reading the book; but let's you in on the wonder of it all.) I have a feeling this movie will fade from view within a few weeks. It may also be one of those movies that ends up in the Academy Awards for best screenplay, best supporting actor, best actress. So, don't let it slip away without YOUR seeing it tomorrow or next weekend. These are the kind of movies, and the caliber of performances that are so rewarding you really need to give it a look see. (Then, buy the book!)
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