This smug, nostalgia wallow, set in the 1950s, deals with domestic dysfunction in a superficial manner better suited to a sitcom. Ex-GI Hubert Lee (Brian Benben), who has adopted and raised two Korean War orphans, just wants to settle down with his wife, Edna (Elizabeth McGovern), son Abraham Jacob (Christopher Larkin) and daughter, Louise Janine (Olivia Oguma). Lee spots some isolated waterside property, bordered by only one neighbor, which he purchases and fashions into a gigantic drive-in. Absorbed in his own dream for a better future, Hubert doesn't consider the effect his outdoor theater might have on the adjoining funeral parlor, owned by Turner Knight (William Hurt). Prejudiced against morticians on principle, Hubert ignores Turner's complaints about the drive-in's loudspeaker system and flashy neon grandeur. In fact, Hubert hopes that Turner will get disgusted and fold up his tent. Although Hubert detests Turner, he behaves charitably toward others, including his new employee, Pete (Joe Torry), an African-American who's had difficulty finding work. Unbeknownst to the busy Hubert, Abraham develops a crush on Turner's teenage daughter and Edna strikes up a platonic friendship with the lonely Turner. When Hubert drums up customers with a fireworks display that accidentally damages Turner's roof, he pays for repairs but remains unapologetic. Throughout Hubert's cockeyed antics, Edna remains his supporter and his conscience; when his hucksterish schemes go too far, she's the one who reels him in. Then tragedy strikes hits the Lee household: Will Hubert finally act in a mature way that would make Edna proud? Hubert Lee is clearly meant to be a loud-mouthed-but-loveable character like Murray Burns in A THOUSAND CLOWNS, but Benben never manages to find the charm beneath the pig-headed bluster. And because this brassy film misrepresents itself as a serio-comedy about self-sacrifice, it's almost impossible not to watch it from a cool distance, rather than getting emotionally involved.
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- Released: 2001
- Rating: NR
- Review: This smug, nostalgia wallow, set in the 1950s, deals with domestic dysfunction in a superficial manner better suited to a sitcom. Ex-GI Hubert Lee (Brian Benben), who has adopted and raised two Korean War orphans, just wants to settle down with his wife, E… (more)