Tag Archives: Nora Ephron is my hero


Two people who refuse to ever marry again meet at a wedding, as you do. Rachel’s (Meryl Streep) a writer, Mark’s (Jack Nicholson) a writer, and they both know better when it comes to love. So of course they end up marrying, though not before Rachel keeps everyone at the wedding waiting for hours and hours as she tries to warm up her cold feet in the room next door. I mean honestly, what’s the max time you would spend at a wedding if the bride was refusing to walk down the aisle?

As if that was an inauspicious enough start to their marriage, the two embark immediately on a home renovation. Which, as we all know, is responsible for like 78% of all divorces and about 94% of matricides (when a wife kills her husband). But they get through it, even with the added pressure of a baby on the way who can’t possibly be born if the lace curtains aren’t hung. And Rachel, newly domesticated, is surprised to find how happy she is. And is totally devastated to find, during the waddliest waddle of her second pregnancy, that Mark is cheating on her.

What now? The Streep takes us up and down a whole xylophone of emotions, hitting every octave with masterful precision. Nicholson is the oboe to Streep’s xylophone, a little jauntier, but hitting complementary notes, pairing nicely. Plus his back hair catches pleasingly in the moonlight. But make no mistake: the xylophone is dominant.

Directed by Mike Nichols based on an autobiographical novel by Nora Ephron, the intimacy is authentic enough to make you feel like a voyeur but you need to decide in advance that you’re here for the performance, not the story. Because there isn’t much of one: love goes off the rails. It’s sad but it happens all the time. The minute Rachel shoves a key lime pie in Mark’s face, she’s every cliche we’ve seen before and none we haven’t.

Mixed Nuts



A small group of dedicated counsellors are working a crisis line on Christmas, even though they’re about to get evicted. It features an all-star cast: Steve Martin,  Rita Wilson, Madeline Kahn, Adam Sandler, Liev Schreiber, Anthony LaPaglia, Juliette Lewis, Rob Reiner, Joely Fisher, and Garry Shandling. Victor Garber lends a voice, tiny Haley Joel Osment can be spotted, and Jon Stewart and Parker Posey play yuppie rollerbladers who are comparatively not worthy of top-billing.nuts

I watch this movie without fail, every year. Admittedly, this is in part because for the past 7 I have found myself working at a crisis line on Christmas.

Now, the thing that you must understand about this movie is that it is bad. Quite bad. But lovable.

Rita Wilson is a goofball who probably shouldn’t be in movies. She’s way too earnest and tries too hard. She seems to mistake acting for clowning and all her lines are shouted, all her gestures hammy and over the top. But writer\director Nora Ephron had just finished making Sleepless in Seattle with Tom Hanks, and may she owed him one (Wilson is his wife).

But just so that Wilson doesn’t feel left out, the others join in on the sub-par acting. Steve Martin resorts to slap-stick. Adam Sandler does a bit with a ukelele that feels like an SNL sketch just wandered randomly onto the set. Juliette Lewis, never the last to board the crazy train, goes balls-deep in the fruitloop department. She delivers her lines as if she’s reading a book to a group of small, not very brightl children. Maybe they’re all just trying to get noticed? Too many cooks in the kitchen? Tooo many clowns at the circus?

This movie is SO bad that it actually uses a recording of the Jingle Cats doing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Fruitcakes are abundant, both literally and figuratively. Liev Schreiber wears a dress and does a fierce tango in his feature film debut – oh what a career that man could have had!  And by the way, who taught Juliette Lewis how to empty a gun?

But to me, all the bad pieces add up to a silly, fun movie, exactly the kind of thing I need in between depressive, suicidal callers when I’m at work early on Christmas morning. Madeline Kahn is perfection, and Rob Reiner, as the straight man, is pretty fun too. And despite the many problems, Nora Ephron is still Nora Ephron, and this movie is full of quotable lines. Is this required Christmas viewing? Certainly not. But if you’ve got a dearth of Christmas cheer, or hours to fill at work over the holidays, then give it a try. You may even find it becoming a Christmas staple.


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