No Laughing Matter

  • 1999
  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • Drama

Hampered by director/co-writer Michael Elias's prosaic scripting and pedestrian direction, this made-for-cable problem drama jerks a few tears, spouts a few truisms, and resolves its behavioral crises much too neatly. There's also a whiff of distaseful exploitation in the casting of Suzanne Somers as a secret alcoholic, since her 1988 autobiography dealt...read more

Where to Watch

Available to Stream

  • Watch on
Reviewed by Robert Pardi
Rating:

Hampered by director/co-writer Michael Elias's prosaic scripting and pedestrian direction, this made-for-cable problem drama jerks a few tears, spouts a few truisms, and resolves its behavioral crises much too neatly. There's also a whiff of distaseful exploitation in the casting of Suzanne Somers as a secret alcoholic, since her 1988 autobiography dealt with the subject at some length. A closet drinker since the death of her husband, a police officer, Emma (Suzanne Somers) relies on her non-judgmental son, Charlie (Chad Christ), far more than she should. College-age Charlie makes excuses to her employer, Mr. Nava (Frank Gerrish), rations Emma's booze and tends to her bruises after tippling-related accidents. When widowed Emma starts dating her late hubby's partner Richard (Robert Desiderio), she resists his attempts to wean her off the bottle. But when Charlie's girlfriend, Lauren (Selma Blair), gets pregnant, the situation takes a turn for the lushly melodramatic. Charlie doesn't want to sacrifice a Yale University education to raise a child, and expects Emma's understanding and support. Instead, she embarrasses him by getting smashed when she meets Lauren's folks and later supports Lauren's decision not to terminate her pregnancy. Emma accepts Mr. Nava's offer of a leave of absence and joins AA, taking Lauren in after her parents throw her out for refusing to get an abortion. On the plus side, the screenplay conveys the furtive side of secret inebriation and the shame of enablers who help hide a loved one's excesses from public view. But this telefilm also palms off platitudes as dialogue, and follows a formulaic curve of benders and temperance lectures. Somers gives her all to big scenes like the Cold Turkey dts sequence. But at heart she's a light comedienne who really isn't up to the task of of delivering a subtle, sustained performance; she looks less like a woman confronting her inner demons than an actress sweating her way through a histrionic work-out.

Cast & Details See all »

  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Review: Hampered by director/co-writer Michael Elias's prosaic scripting and pedestrian direction, this made-for-cable problem drama jerks a few tears, spouts a few truisms, and resolves its behavioral crises much too neatly. There's also a whiff of distaseful exp… (more)

Show More »