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(Review originally written at 5 September 2007)

I think the movie makes the mistake that its more cheerful and happy, instead of being dramatic. The core of the movie is its drama but this just doesn't work out fully due to the fact that everything around it is too cheerful and made in a comedy kind of style. The movie even finds room to put in a love-story, which is just a bit too much I'm afraid. The movie should had focused some more on the mourning and real problems, if the movie wanted to make a real lasting and effective impression. Instead now the problems in the movie are too trivial and don't seem significant enough, when considering 3 young children lost their parents and they're being raised by her aunt who definitely is an inexperienced one, as a 'parent'. You can say that the movie is too 'Hollywood' and therefor also becomes formulaic, standard and rather predictable.

The movie is definitely well made for a 'comedy' and it has some great characters in it, that help to make the movie. There is a good balance of characters that are funny (although perhaps a bit too over-the-top) and characters that are serious. It's the thing that keeps the movie going and make it a pleasant one to watch.

It's not like the story is really heading anywhere in the movie. Especially the middle of the movie is a sort of a drag, after a good and quite promising first minutes. Seemed like the movie wasn't too sure what direction to head in after that. It falls back to a lot of clichés to eventually of course also end in a clichéd and predictable way. The movie is perhaps also a bit too long. At least more then it really needed to be. Perhaps some side-plots should had been dropped.

Amazingly the movie really has a big and superb cast, with actors such as Kate Hudson, Joan Cusack, Helen Mirren, Hector Elizondo and Felicity Huffman in it. But all the more great is the children-cast. Spencer Breslin and Abigail Breslin are two of the great child-actors of our time and in this movie they once more show why. And then there is Hayden Panettiere, who is a strange case. For her age she's great but I have doubts if people in 10 years from now still know who she is. If she wants to continue being taking seriously and show that she's up for the task, she needs to start taking some more serious roles fast, or else she continues being typecast over and over again, until eventually she is considered to be too old by Hollywood. She needs to stop doing these cheerful movies and cheerful roles. Even when her character is supposed to be mad she has something cheerful in her. She has the potential to become a great actress, if she can make the step to more serious and demanding roles NOW.

I consider this to be a watchable movie, as long as you can handle most of the Hollywood clichés.

6/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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