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The movie starts with a mother reading outside her son's bedroom door in the middle of the night.
Years later, assuming it is the same mother and son, son Angelo is having difficulty finishing the story he is writing to submit to publishers. Mom Jackie, hard at work on other authors' work, is giving him advice which he doesn't really want. It is June, and Angelo and Jackie look at the room he will have at NYU in the Fall. NYU is 85 steps away from home. And Angelo doesn't feel like he is "going away" to college. Jackie doesn't want to let him go.
But why would Angelo want to leave? Jackie has what must be a great job as an editor of fiction books. The apartment building has a doorman. Later, Jackie gets on a plane and flies first class and hires a limo, not a taxi, when she arrives. Her nervous boss worries he won't be able to get in touch. She assures him she will have a special ringtone for him and she will answer. That ringtone sounds like a very loud version of the vibrating noise cell phones make, and it's not only annoying but funny. We hear it many times, and amazingly, Jackie is able to convince the boss she is in New York City or at least nearby and always working. And she can do the work thanks to technology. Angelo will get to spend six weeks in California with his father Peter and his pregnant wife and daughter. Angelo looks forward to surfing, something he can't do in the polluted waters of New York.
Jackie finds out Angelo cancelled his college plans. She flies to Los Angeles and hires Ramon to drive her. Poor Ramon doesn't know what he's getting himself into, but he is very dedicated. Jackie becomes dependent on him for not only driving but everything else, including advice since she is quite clueless, despite her intelligence in areas of life she knows.
If her son wants to surf, she will too. How hard can it be? She goes in wearing a normal swimsuit (and looks great in it, by the way; later, she is lying in bed wearing just a towel and showing off her legs). No, that water is cold. So she will get a wet suit, very hard to put on. Now, a lot of physical comedy. Jackie swims at the gym in New York City, so learning surfing should be no problem. No, she doesn't need an instructor.
Yes she does.
Ian is 37 and thinks Jackie is hot. Maybe, but her face shows her age, in my opinion. Jackie claims to be 37. And she tries to do things her way rather than listening to Ian, but she quickly realizes, after numerous falls, that she needs to listen to him.
Meanwhile, Angelo is enjoying his new life. He is making friends, including Blanche, who is nice. He is reading books that no one is telling him to read and still struggling to sell his story. He meets an older man who is a successful writer but still must do another job to make a living. He ends up running into Jackie more than once, including when she gives him help getting the book published but tries to hide this fact. Angelo is not pleased his mother followed him and doesn't really want her hanging around and helping.
Jackie also hides her attempts to learn surfing, which remain hilarious. Everything keeps going wrong. She even has an opportunity to get high.
So will Jackie and Angelo solve their problems?
And you'll be amazed at the ending.
I didn't recognize Helen Hunt when she was still wearing those hideous glasses at home. Even without glasses, she didn't exactly look familiar. I watched a handful of "Mad about You" episodes but she has changed somewhat. Her hairstyle is still cute. She looked like she did in "Shots Fired", filmed near where I live (the only reason I watched); that led me to conclude that might be her. No wonder she's so good. And so funny. And she even wrote and directed, something I didn't know until the end. And she can do physical comedy! It looked quite dangerous, but surely there were stunt performers. And I suspected, and later was proved right by the credits, that some visual effects might have been added. That makes more sense than doing everything where it would be the most hazardous. Everything looked real.
The TiVo summary also said "Comedy, surfing". It took me a while to be certain I was supposed to be laughing. Not until the surfing lessons began was I absolutely certain. But later on there is so much drama and so much conflict that calling this a comedy seems incorrect. There are reasons why Jackie and her ex broke up, though the new family is quite nice.
Brenton Thwaites is a name I have never heard. He's likable enough.
Luke Wilson is a talented comic actor I am somewhat familiar with. I didn't recognize him but he is patient and caring.
David Zayas is to be commended for putting up with all the nonsense.
And of course there is Richard Kind. This is the type of role for which he is ideal. I'm just sorry he only appeared in one scene and I could only hear him over the phone even then. I'm not even sure I was supposed to be able to understand anything he said but his frustration comes through.
While it's not the highbrow material Helen Hunt might be expected to do, it's certainly a fun and well-done farce.
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