(2022) (Sigourney Weaver, Kevin Kline) (R)
- QUICK TAKE:
- Drama: An alcoholic real estate agent tries to resurrect her career in the seaside town where she grew up.
In the seaside town of Wendover, Massachusetts, Hildy Good (SIGOURNEY WEAVER), is the local veteran real estate agent, divorced from Scott (DAVID RASCHE) -- who left her for a man -- and mom to adults Tess (REBECCA HENDERSON) and Emily (MOLLY BROWN).
She often uses the contractor services of a past lover, Frank Getchell (KEVIN KLINE), to help spruce up clients' homes for sale, such as Cassie and Patch Dwight (GEORGIA LYMAN and JAMES LeBLANC) who have their hands full caring for their autistic son, Jake (SILAS PEREIRA-OLSON).
Hildy's alcoholic ways, though, have cut into her business, including by having her former protege, Wendy Heatherton (KATHRYN ERBE), become her rival. But she has a new friend in newcomer Rebecca McAllister (MORENA BACCARIN), a married artist who's secretly having a fling with psychiatrist Peter Newbold (ROB DELANEY). While trying to stay out of their business, Hildy hopes to resurrect her real estate business, all while her drinking threatens that.
- OUR TAKE: 6.5 out of 10
A common moment in reality TV shows like "Fixer Upper" is demo day when one or more of the hosts enjoy tearing a house apart so that they can remodel it. And the usual go-to shot is one of them busting through some drywall so that they can then smash the studs and rearrange or altogether remove a wall. In movies (and other forms of visual entertainment), a different sort of wall breaking occurs.
And that's when the "fourth wall" is broken and one or more characters end up talking directly to the viewer. It's no longer novel enough to startle the audience, but it's still something of a rarity. And when done correctly and imaginatively, it's a decent way to form a connection between those on the screen (or stage) and those watching them hoping for one degree or another of entertainment.
Such wall breaking of both types shows up in "The Good House," a decently made and intriguing if something of an odd duck movie that brings two of the bigger movie stars of the twentieth century together for a third time. They would be Sigourney Weaver and Kevin Kline who first played opposite each other in 1993's political comedy "Dave" and then reunited four years later in the far more somber "The Ice Storm."
In this offering from Maya Forbes and Wally Wolodarsky who co-wrote the script with Thomas Bezucha, they play Hildy Good and Frank Getchell, former lovers of the seaside town of Wendover, Massachusetts where they grew up. She's the polished local real estate agent veteran and he's the disheveled handyman she often uses to fix up places she's looking to sell. We learn much of that and more thanks to Weaver's character, well, breaking character and talking directly to us and she gives us the lowdown about the town, its people, and her "little issue."
That would be her being a mostly highly functioning alcoholic, something she keeps hidden from her adult daughters -- Tess (Rebecca Henderson) and Emily (Molly Brown) -- and her ex-husband -- Scott (David Rasche) -- who eventually confronted her with a "you're drinking too much" intervention years ago. Now, she's quite good at avoiding their alcohol detectors, but that doesn't prevent her from drinking (and more) with Frank or her new friend, Rebecca McAllister (Morena Baccarin), who's recently moved to the town and is having a secret affair with the local shrink, Peter Newbold (Rob Delaney).
But Hildy's drinking does threaten her business -- including trying to sell the well-worn home of Cassie and Patch Dwight (Georgia Lyman and James LeBlanc) -- that's quickly being eaten away by her former protege turned current real estate agent rival, Wendy Heatherton (Kathryn Erbe). And as the story progresses over nearly two hours, her alcoholism worsens and thus threatens both to derail her efforts and turn the flick into a downer.
Which is a shame since it starts in a far more lighthearted way that even dabbles in the protagonist's family connection to the nearby witch trials from centuries before. That includes some jokes about her being a witch herself and she does accurately demonstrate, when asked, to read others' pasts.
That's a subplot that seems to indicate the flick could be something altogether different than it initially appears -- sort of a modern-day "Witches of Eastwick" sort of offering -- but that ends up evaporating away in favor of the more serious material.
Granted, that's handled well, and the performances are good, especially from Weaver and Kline who not surprisingly have great onscreen chemistry together. But the fun, if you will, of the early parts likewise dissolves as the story focus narrows down on Hildy's alcoholism and its detrimental effects on her and others.
Of course, in the end, and appropriate for the fixer-upper aspect, she and we eventually realize she needs just that along with her own demo day to make things right. "The Good House" rates as a 6.5 out of 10.
Posted September 30, 2022
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