The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Friday, June 07, 2002  

Ya-Ya This

“Mother of All Chick Flicks.”

Yes, that’s what we were thinking, but we weren’t about to say that and the words are not ours. They come from Katrina Onstad, reviewing the new film, “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood,” in today’s edition of the National Post.

Reviews of the film, which opens tonight, have been largely negative:

New York Times, Stephen Holden: “This big, blowzy movie, which opens today nationwide, is more concerned with sustaining a mood of cute chin-up sentimentality than with connecting its dramatic dots….For all its failed connections, ‘Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood’ is nurturing, in a gauzy, dithering way. Its upbeat attitude could be summed up in the title of another recent sudsfest cut from the same sopping piece of fabric: hope floats.”

Philadelphia Inquirer, Carrie Rickey: “Less successful in exploring the long-term effects of mental breakdown than in dispensing short-term comic pick-me-ups, ‘Ya-Ya’ wrings abundant laughter and tears.”

Chicago Tribune, Michael Wilmington: “It’s a likable movie with a great cast, and for about a half-hour or so, I was in its corner….But ‘Divine Secrets’ begins to lose its grip about halfway through, and it winds up closer to a second-string ‘Steel Magnolias’ or ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ than anything by Tennessee Williams or [Eudora] Welty.” [Ed.: Our expectations weren’t that high.], Stephanie Zacharek: Director Callie Khouri has an “agenda, which is to craft a facsimile of a real Southern family story but to make sure that we don’t miss the message: Women must stick together, through thick and thin. Women are strong. Southern women in particular, because of their sass and liveliness, can get away with a lot more bad behavior than the rest of us boring old folk, and it’s all OK. It all adds up to something heavily calculated to make us feel good. But it’s really just a beignet that doesn’t sit right.”

We’re not surprised. We have two firm rules that have served us well over the years:

1. No matter how tempting the film may appear, never pay to see a movie that is promoted with trailers that include a scene of three or more women sharing a bonding moment in their underwear. (See also “Practical Magic.”)

2. Avoid films and shows that are better known by abbreviated nicknames than their proper names. (I.e., “Ya-Ya” rather than “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.” See also “Angels in America.”)

Our rules have been validated once again. We’re staying home.

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