THE EVENING STAR

title: THE EVENING STAR
year: 1996
cast: Shirley MacLaine, Bill Paxton, Natasha Richardson, Juliette Lewis, Jack Nicholson, Marion Ross
rating: **

This movie assumes we're a lot more into the story than the story tries to be a good one. Has the same problem as "Texasville", the sequel to the iconic masterpiece "The Last Picture Show"; this being the sequel to another classic "Terms of Endearment" (all four based on novels written by Larry McMurtrey). Takes a lightweight approach continuing from the original wonderfully tragic story of Shirley Maclaine's character, who lost her daughter, Deborah Winger, to cancer, and now has to deal with the grandkids: all grown up and doing... horribly. The youngest son drives a tow truck, the oldest son is in jail, and the precocious daughter, played by Juliette Lewis (overracting as usual), is a moody suicidal college student with a cheating white trash boyfriend. MacLaine tries her best but there's just no story here. When her endearingly grumpy character insults particular family members it's not very funny because we don't know them enough to understand (or care about) her loathing. And whenever needed, she looks through albums with pictures of the original film, thus paving the way for Jack Nicholson, returning in a cameo, which doesn't help things one bit. He and Shirley have the chemistry of two dead sea slugs as they wander around chatting about life, death, and love: which they didn't have to talk about since they EXPERIENCED these things in "Terms". Bill Paxton adds some silly bumpkin flavor as a councelor who has an affair with MacLaine, doing the best young Jack Nicholson impression he can muster. Natasha Richardson as "Patsy", who was Winger's laidback plain-looking pal in "Terms" (played by another actress), here is a spunky beautiful rich divorcee, providing a somewhat weak foil for MacLaine. And Marion Ross as the faithful maid is probably the best performance of the bunch... at least she has something to do.

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