Country-music singer Reba McEntire, who previously acted in supporting roles in TREMORS (1990) and a handful of TV movies, confidently takes center stage in this family-oriented drama with non-threatening doses of female empowerment. The plot and dialogue seem to write themselves at
times, but good acting makes the made-for-TV feature watchable.
After a breast-cancer scare, housewife Lily Marshall (McEntire) takes stock of her life and re-enters college to earn a degree in literature, a dream deferred long ago when she married carpenter Brad (Keith Carradine) and raised their family. Her initially supportive husband and kids grow cold to
the idea when Lily spends less time preparing supper and more nights in study sessions, particularly with young teaching assistant Joshua (Mitchell Anderson). Then Joshua's close attentions prove to be more than scholarly; he tries to rape Lily, but she fights him off. Somewhat incongruously, Brad
now urges his despairing wife to return to class, where she aces her final exam despite Joshua. Lily's big moment is reciting an ode to her farmer father (Donald Moffat).
This homespun verse, "The Greatest Man I Never Knew," is credited to Reba McEntire herself, and she also performs the eponymous title song. The music star and her real-life spouse, Narvel Blackstock, helped produce IS THERE LIFE OUT THERE? but it's free of the indulgence that usually marks a
vanity production. McEntire delivers an eased and endearing performance, and Keith Carradine could rank with Henry Fonda and James Stewart as the personification of common, unpretentious American decency. They render cliched lines like "Don't you see what's happening, Lily? You're drifting away
from us," with the twangy humanity of, well, good country music. (Adult situations.)
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: NR
- Review: Country-music singer Reba McEntire, who previously acted in supporting roles in TREMORS (1990) and a handful of TV movies, confidently takes center stage in this family-oriented drama with non-threatening doses of female empowerment. The plot and dialogue… (more)