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(1999) (Rosie Perez, Marianne Jean-Baptiste) (R)

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Drama/Comedy: A TV producer tries to juggle the strains of balancing her career with that of being a new mother.
Grace Santos (ROSIE PEREZ) is an energetic and vivacious producer for a morning TV talk show, "The 24 Hour Woman." Married to Eddie Diaz (DIEGO SERRANO), who co-anchors that show with Margo Lynn (KAREN DUFFY) and has dreams of becoming a professional actor, the couple couldn't be happier.

That joy is increased when they learn that she's pregnant and that their baby is due during the November sweeps rating period, a fact that couldn't be any more pleasing to the show's executive producer, Joan Marshall (PATTI LuPONE). As such, the show covers her pregnancy, and as Grace's belly grows, so do the show's ratings, and by the time she delivers a daughter, Lily, the show's at the top of the charts.

After having Lily, however, Grace soon finds that the pressures of trying to simultaneously work and be a mother are too much for her. Although her new assistant, Madeline Labelle (MARIANNE JEAN-BAPTISTE), whose husband, Roy (WENDELL PIERCE) stays home and raises the kids so that she can be a working mom, has essentially taken over her producer role, Grace slowly begins to crack under the pressure.

As a result, tensions grow between her and Eddie, who's having to be away from home longer while working as an actor. From that point on, Grace must sort out her priorities regarding her career and motherhood so that she can maintain her sanity.

Unless they're fans of someone in the cast, it's highly unlikely.
For strong language.
  • ROSIE PEREZ plays a vivacious TV producer who suddenly finds that balancing her career and motherhood don't mix well. As such, she cusses a lot, argues with her husband, and eventually becomes momentarily dangerous with a handgun.
  • DIEGO SERRANO plays Grace's husband, an aspiring actor and co-anchor of a morning talk show who isn't the best husband in the world as he expects Grace to do most of the caring for their child while he pursues his career.
  • MARIANNE JEAN-BAPTISTE plays another working mom who's just rejoined the work force after a several year hiatus (and she also occasionally argues with her husband -- with profanities -- about raising their kids).
  • WENDELL PIERCE plays her stay at home husband who takes care of their kids and occasionally gets fed up with it (and cusses).


    OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
    Titled after the fictitious morning TV talk show that pervades much of its plot, as well as the demands that society and women in general put on themselves to be round-the-clock superwomen, "The 24 Hour Woman" is presumably supposed to be a funny and thought-provoking look at balancing a career with being a parent.

    Unfortunately, it's an increasingly irritating and decidedly non-humorous look at that "blessed event" that can cause many parents to pull out their own -- or their partner's -- hair. While the old saying goes, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned," that certainly doesn't take into account what a child screaming in the middle of night, coupled with still raging hormones and a serious case of sleep deprivation can do to a parent. Throw in the strains of trying to cope with all of that while still holding down a job and you've got an interesting dilemma.

    Of course, countless parents have gone through all of that and more. While many mothers and fathers will easily be able to identify with what occurs in this film, that doesn't mean that they want or need to, or better yet, will enjoy it. More likely to stir up memories of the occasional "horrors" of parenthood (and to be fair, the joys as well) than many laughs at what occurs on screen, "The 24 Hour Woman" is a classic case of bungled potential.

    Although there are some apparent attempts at humor scattered throughout the production -- including the morning TV talk show that's presumably supposed to be satirizing "Regis & Kathy Lee" and the like (with story teases about "Pantyhose Victims," "Lugers for Ladies," etc...) as well as the string of frustrating complications the characters must endure -- little of it's truly amusing, let alone outright hilarious.

    Even the climatic encounter that occurs in the middle of a cross-dressing sequence on the TV show -- presumably meant to be funny (we hope) -- comes off more as curiously inane than brilliantly executed. In fact, it nearly seems as if writer/director Nancy Savoca ("True Love") and cowriter Richard Guay thought that just dressing the talent and crew of that show in drag would be funny, but how many times has that worn-out bit been used over the years?

    To make matters worse and despite the obvious attempts to impress the audience, the "behind the scenes" TV moments are about as lame as those found in last year's "Holy Man" and certainly never come close to the brilliant ones found in "Broadcast News."

    Additionally, as much fun as it is to watch Rosie Perez inhabit her character, she's no Holly Hunter (who played the producer in "Broadcast News") and the comparison between their characters -- on many differing levels -- is like night and day.

    That said, Perez ("Fearless," "White Men Can't Jump") does deliver a believable performance as the strained working mom. Anyone who's been in similar circumstances can easily sympathize with her battle to love her child while trying to protect her sanity and her relationship with her husband.

    Supporting performances from Marianne Jean-Baptiste ("Secrets and Lies") and Wendell Pierce ("Get on the Bus") are strong and equally believable as they portray another couple who've already been through similar paces. The rest of the performers, however, play characters who are less developed, including Diego Serrano whose "husband wanting to be an actor" character often comes off as more of a caricature than a real person.

    Despite perfectly representing what becoming a parent -- especially one who wishes to continue to hold down a career -- can do to some people if they don't change their standards, the film doesn't offer such moments with enough humor to make them bearable. As such, and although many will recognize and remember themselves in similar circumstances, the proceedings come off as more irritating than insightfully funny.

    While one can readily see what the filmmakers were trying to achieve with this picture, it just doesn't work. Don't be surprised to see this one delivered to the video stores much faster than the duration of a normal pregnancy. We give "The 24 Hour Woman" a 3 out of 10.

    Here's a quick look at the content found in this R-rated film. Profanity is extreme with more than 60 "f" words being used (along with an assortment of other profanities, religious expressions and colorful phrases). Some sexual comments are made regarding the talk show's segments, and we also see varying amounts of cleavage and some breast-feeding related moments.

    Although it's presumably played somewhat for laughs, a character does attempt to shoot another during a momentary mental breakdown, and scenes of married couples crumbling under the stress of parenthood may be a tiny bit unsettling or uncomfortable for some viewers. As such, there's a moderate amount of tense family moments as parents argue and fight over responsibilities.

    Beyond that and some brief drinking and smoking, the film's remaining categories are relatively void of major objectionable content. Should you still be concerned with the film's appropriateness for you or someone in your home, however, we suggest that you take a closer look at what's been listed.

  • Co-anchor Margo makes a comment on the show about giving up "drinking, drugs, smoking...and casual sex."
  • Eddie has a glass of wine.
  • People have champagne at Grace's baby shower.
  • Eddie drinks wine again (and Grace, already overdue in her pregnancy, takes a drink as well).
  • In several scenes we see Eddie with fake blood on him (for his acting parts).
  • Grace and Eddie begin to have a great deal of both toward each other due to the strain of both trying to work and raise their child (with Eddie being absent more often as the story progresses), while Madeline and Roy also have some of both toward each other under similar circumstances.
  • A coworker makes a snide remark to Madeline about her working hours (as a mother versus being childless).
  • A man makes fun of Roy being an "at home dad."
  • Several of the scenes where the pressure mounts on Grace (and we see her reaction) may be a bit disturbing to some viewers (or at least irritating), as might scenes with Madeline and Roy arguing.
  • Some may find the scene where Grace shoots at and then holds a gun on Eddie as having some of both, but it's presumably supposed to be somewhat of a funny scene.
  • Handguns: Briefly seen on camera for a segment of the TV show. A worker then gives a forgotten one to Grace who puts it into her desk. She later retrieves it and fires it at Eddie and then threatens him with it when she finally loses control.
  • Phrases: "You're so full of sh*t," "Holy sh*t," "Pissed," "Bitch," "Smart ass," "Pissed off," "Watch your bony ass," "Shut up," "Sorry ass," "Jerk" and "Nutcase."
  • None.
  • None.
  • None.
  • At least 66 "f" words (5 used with "mother"), 18 "s" words, 1 slang term for breasts ("t*ts"), 12 hells, 7 asses (1 used with "hole"), 3 damns, 1 crap, and 9 uses of "Oh my God," 6 each of "G- damn" and "God," 5 of "Jesus Christ," 3 of "Oh God" and 1 use of "For God's sakes" as exclamations.
  • Co-anchor Margo makes a comment on the show about giving up "drinking, drugs, smoking...and casual sex."
  • Grace shows varying amounts of cleavage in several scenes, while another woman also shows some.
  • We see Madeline and Roy starting to undress each other (in silhouette and nothing close to explicit), but one of their kids yells out and they stop (with him commenting on the "sex police").
  • We see several instances of Grace breast-feeding, but only see parts of her breasts. In another scene, we see her breasts attached to a breast pump (in an open breast-feeding bra where only her nipples are covered by the apparatus).
  • A few comments are made about "sex week" on the show (and that they're going to have a day of "sex switcheroo" (cross-dressing), as well as about aphrodisiacs and a teaser question about how many calories sex burns.
  • Co-anchor Margo makes a comment on the show about giving up "drinking, drugs, smoking...and casual sex."
  • Grace's mother smokes a few times, as does Eddie.
  • Both Grace and Eddie and Madeline and Roy get into verbal fights over raising their children, with Grace eventually losing control and shooting at Eddie with a gun.
  • Whether it's possible to balance a career with parenthood.
  • The reasons parents may argue or be tense about their children and who's to take what responsibilities concerning them.
  • Madeline's kids occasionally punch or push each other.
  • Graces violently knocks things over in her office.
  • Having finally lost control, Grace grabs a gun, fires several shots at Eddie, and then holds that gun on him (he then later pushes her off him).

  • Reviewed January 8, 1999 / Posted on February 19, 1999

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