Friends with Money: Asbury Park Press: Yes, I'm reaching

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Friends with Money: Asbury Park Press: Yes, I'm reaching

Post by Helen8 » Fri Apr 07, 2006 3:09 pm

way into the bag!


Well-acted "Friends With Money" is without much plausibility

The peril of casting rich movie stars in a movie about the terrible woes of not having enough money, or having too much money, is that the audience is asked to really, really suspend its disbelief.

Jennifer Aniston, rich from being one of TV's "Friends," portrays a single poor maid in "Friends With Money." But she has three wealthy friends, one of whom she asks for a loan to take a course to better herself and stop having to clean toilets for a living.

You've probably seen the TV ads for the film in which Aniston chides her rich pal, Joan Cusack, for worrying about making the smallish loan when she, Cusack, spends $70 on French shoes for her baby. And Cusack has just donated millions to charity.

With a cast of such talented, interesting women as Aniston, Cusack, Catherine Keener plus the sterling Frances McDormand as the circle of friends, "Friends With Money" is never a losing proposition. It's just not real enough to matter.

Here's the basic bones of the story: Keener and her writing partner husband (Jason Isaacs) decide to put an addition on their California house that will give them a sweeping ocean view. We learn they haven't had sex for a long time, so obviously, the addition is some kind of sublimation or transference or whatever.

Cusack and her husband are multi-millionaires with an earnest sense of do-goodism, and a sex life, apparently, so we're not sure what their problem is, except that they feel sort of funny about being so rich (and it's her money, not his, always a tricky proposition).

McDormand, as usual the best thing about any movie she's in, is the well-to-do wife of a British man who, director Nicole Holofcener's screenplay teases, may be gay. At least, everybody thinks he's gay. So, even though they're happily married, with a child, she's angry. McDormand is intensely unnerving as the woman who gets into fights with annoying drivers, line jumpers, uppity store clerks and an acquaintance she meets at a flea market. It's great fun watching McDormand tear through her role, but does it add up, make sense? And, is it enough to justify her anger? She designs expensive soft, floating, feminine dresses — the exact opposite of her personality. She's more a composite than a flesh and blood person.

The four women's lives intersect now and then — at fund-raisers or coffee klatches and flea markets — but the movie has a meandering quality that diffuses its urgency. And when Keener and Isaacs finally realize why they're being snubbed by their once-friendly neighbors — the new addition is huge, ugly and blocking everybody's else's view — you conclude that being rich isn't their problem: It's a lack of operative brain cells. ... 1031/rss09


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