[Screen It]


(1999) (Julia Sweeney) (PG-13)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
*Mild *Minor Minor None None
Minor None None None Mild
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Mild *Minor Moderate Moderate *Minor

Comedy/Filmed Monologue: In this filmed version of her theatrical monologue, actress Julia Sweeney recounts the comedic and dramatic moments of dealing with her and her brother's bouts with cancer.
Actress Julia Sweeney brings her theatrical monologue to the silver screen where she discusses her brother Michael's bout with cancer, him and their parents moving into her house to care for him, and her own dealings with her later discovered cancer. Filled with comedic and touching moments, Julia recounts the good and bad times that occurred over a several month period.
Unless they're a fan of Sweeney (formerly of TV's "Saturday Night Live"), it's highly unlikely.
For thematic elements and some drug references.
JULIA SWEENEY plays herself, an adult woman who had to deal with her family moving in with her after she and her brother both got cancer. The reaction to all of that -- all relayed through nothing but her monologue -- includes sneaking sex with her boyfriend and craving a cigarette, but most viewers will probably find her to be a good role model for taking care of her brother and feeling closer to her occasionally irritating parents.


OUR TAKE: 7 out of 10
Imagine if your life followed this course. You're recently divorced and unemployed, although you have enough cash to finally buy the little "house for one" you've always dreamed of. Then your brother learns that he has cancer and moves into your house, followed shortly thereafter by your parents. Suddenly you find yourself living an odd semblance of your childhood. To top it off, you then learn that you also have cancer.

Now for those who follow the old "glass half full" or "glass half empty" philosophy, one could either succumb to such a harsh turn of events, or conversely, find humor amongst the pain and pathos. Ever the resourceful comedian, that's exactly what actress Julia Sweeney (TV's "Saturday Night Live," "It's Pat") did. Initially taking those real-life trials and tribulations to the stage, she's now adapted her monologue performance for the silver screen.

Honed during those improvisational and apparently cathartic, theatrical skits, Sweeney's performance is at times funny, occasionally hilarious, and is often heartwarming and touching. Although the complete lack of other performers and settings in this monologue takes a little getting used to, and Sweeney doesn't have the storytelling style of a Spalding Gray ("Swimming to Cambodia") or the ability to perfectly mimic other characters in the style of Tracie Ullman or John Leguizamo, the effect still works if given the right frame of mind and enough time.

In the grand tradition of storytelling, Sweeney weaves interesting and often funny side bits into her general story. From her father's newfound preoccupation with all things news -- and particularly National Public Radio -- to the way her mother answers the phone, and from her "traveling ovaries" to briefly mentioning Yamamoto, her sister's sweet potato farmer who's nicknamed "Yam," these supplemental shorts, when combined with the main "plot," manage to completely engross the audience by the time the tale comes to an end.

Only a few minor drawbacks slightly mar this otherwise entertaining production. First, and despite the close-up intimacy a zoom lens can provide, one is constantly reminded that this is a filmed stage performance. Recognizing the absence of the "you are there" feeling always found in attending a live "event," Sweeney -- also acting as the film's director -- tries to liven things up by constantly, but slowly moving the camera around herself.

Not only is this distracting for the movie audience, but there's also a jarring, poorly conceived moment when our camera pulls back to reveal another camera crew, the sight of which immediately disconnects the audience from the storyteller.

Fortunately, the camera movement eventually and mostly subsides during the film's second half, presumably because Sweeney correctly recognizes that by that point the audience is engrossed in her tale and has accepted the stage trappings. Unfortunately, the live audience present during the filming also ends up being another distraction. Ready to laugh at any moment, they're a clear reminder that we're not there, as well as just how annoying similar TV sitcom laugh-tracks can be.

Nonetheless and notwithstanding those mild objections/problems, the film and Sweeney's performance are still quite good. Better yet, her little known personal story should definitely help audiences forgive the actress for ever being associated with the "It's Pat" character she played on "Saturday Night Live" and mistakenly brought to the big screen. We give "God Said Ha!" a 7.5 out of 10.

The following is a brief summary of the content found in this PG-13 rated film. Since this is a monologue filmed from the original stage performance, all of the content is described instead of seen. As such, Sweeney briefly talks about her brother having sold pot in the past, and of her having to sneak off to have sex with a boyfriend while her parents were away from the house or presumably asleep.

The thematic elements of being diagnosed with cancer, as well as the resulting treatment and worsening condition -- described at length throughout the production -- may be troubling to some viewers, particularly those who are, know, or have known others in similar circumstances.

Beyond the limited profanity that consists of 1 "s" word and a few religious phrases, the rest of the film has little or no major objectionable content. Should you still be concerned with the film's appropriateness, however, we suggest that you take a closer look at what's been listed.

  • Julia occasionally mentions her father having a drink in his hand, or of her mother complaining about the father's drinking. She also mentions suddenly finding Pabst Blue Ribbon in her house after they moved in with her, and wanting to have wine and finger-food for her boyfriend.
  • Julia talks about a medical form of marijuana in pill form, and that it's not as good as the real stuff. She then mentions that her other brother used to sell pot out of her parent's basement and was thus very popular among their friends.
  • Julia mentions one (or both) of her parents having a boilermaker.
  • Stating that she preferred not taking any pain medication during her ordeal with cancer, Julia mentions that she later enjoyed her Percodan with a margarita.
  • Although we obviously don't see anything, Julia talks about her brother having a "shunt" put into his head, as well as a tube into his abdomen so that nourishment could be inserted directly into his stomach. She also briefly talks about him repeatedly vomiting from being so sick, and about the doctors moving her ovaries during surgery and later "losing" one (all of which may be a bit unsettling for the ultra squeamish).
  • Julia recounts a story about farting (her word) while in a bookstore and how embarrassing it was.
  • Some may not like a moment where Julia says that she's not a big fan of the Pope or when she mentions that her priest (when she was a child) had philosophically said that Heaven might just be an "instant" of bliss when one dies.
  • None.
  • None.
  • Phrases: "Sh*t hit the fan" and "Laughing my ass off."
  • None.
  • None.
  • None.
  • 1 "s" word, 1 ass, and 4 uses of "Oh my God" and 1 use of "G-damn" as exclamations.
  • After stating that her boyfriend was a bow hunter, Julia says that she had dreams of him chasing her through the woods naked.
  • She then mentions that with her parents in her house, she had to "sneak around" with Carl (sexually), and that she had forgotten "how exciting that is." She then recounts visiting his bed at night and in the morning, and talks about when she and Carl came home one time and found the house empty. She then told him to go to the bedroom and take off his clothes (not knowing how long they had). She then says that they "did it" and that it was wonderful, but later worried that her parents might have come home during their encounter and had heard them.
  • Julie then talks about having the doctor's harvesting her eggs in case she wanted to find a surrogate mother to bear her child, and about sperm donors (and she says that she asked her doctor how many she could have).
  • Julia tells a story about really wanting a cigarette at one moment, and how it felt good to smoke it, and then how it flew back into her car when she tried to throw it away. She also mentions that her father used to smoke several packs a day, but is now an anti-smoke person.
  • Julia mentions that she's amicably divorced from her husband (no kids involved).
  • Julia also focuses on the strain of having her parents live with her, as well as of her brother having and dying from cancer.
  • Everything to do with cancer (the diagnosis, treatment, chances of survival, etc...).
  • Julia mentions that her mother slapped her years earlier (after mentioning that her priest had philosophically said that Heaven might just be an "instant" of bliss when one dies).

  • Reviewed February 17, 1999 / Posted April 2, 1999

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