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Awesome: 1.45%
Worth A Look43.48%
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Pretty Crappy: 31.88%
Sucks: 10.14%

8 reviews, 21 user ratings

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Friends With Money
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Sorry, wrong 'Friends'-still pretty annoying though"
2 stars

“Friends With Money,” the latest film from writer-director Nicole Holofcener (whose previous efforts include “Lovely and Amazing” and “Walking and Talking”), was the opening night attraction at this year’s Sundance film festival and it isn’t hard to see why–like the festival itself, the film is a glib and relatively shallow enterprise that few people would acknowledge if it weren’t for all the high-profile celebrities associated with it.

In this dry serio-comedic affair, a trio of rich and well-married friends (Catherine Keener, Joan Cusack and Frances McDormand) fret about their other pal (Jennifer Aniston), a former teacher who now cleans people’s homes, smokes pot around the clock and gets involved in one miserably unfulfilling romance after another–the joke, of course, is that they suffer the same problems and insecurities as their friend but misery always looks better with a hefty bank account balance. In the case of Jane (McDormand), her particular depression manifests itself in her refusal to wash her hair and her tendency to fly into a white-hot rage at the slightest social indignity. As for screenwriter Christine (Keener), her already-strained personal and professional relationship with her husband/co-writer (Jason Issacs) hits a breaking point when they decide to add a second floor to their home. As for Olivia (Aniston), she becomes obsessed with acquiring a face cream far out of her price range and begins dating a loser (Scott Caan) who “helps” with her cleaning gigs (i.e. he buys her a sexy French maid’s outfit to do the work in and has sex with her in the various beds) and then insists on claiming his share of her earnings. In an ironic touch, the richest of the four friends, Franny (Cusack), turns out to have the happiest and most stable life of the bunch and, perhaps as a result, is the one who gets to do such dirty work as explaining to Olivia why lending her thousands of dollars so that she can study to be a personal trainer might not be the most intelligent of investments (for starters, Olivia doesn’t actually exercise herself).

There are some nice moments here and there (most of them supplied by the dependably abrasive Keener and Simon McBurney, quite funny as McDormand’s charmingly oblivious metrosexual husband) and a few bits of barbed wit that I appreciated. The problem is Holofcener has never been the most consistent of writers and her screenplay here misses the mark more often than it hits it. For starters, we are stuck with the simple fact that Aniston’s character is so patently unlikeable and unlikely (especially the fact that the others would be friends with her in the first place) that the film virtually grinds to a halt whenever she comes on-screen–somewhat of a liability since she is the central character in the film. This, I should note, is less a slam on Aniston, who is okay–although she is essentially doing just a slight variation on her character in “The Good Girl”–as it is on Holofcener’s conception of the character. Another problem that has cropped up repeatedly in her work, though never to the degree that it does here, is her insistence on trying to make us like and understand her female characters and their flaws while demonizing the males (at least the non-effeminate ones) for theirs. Take the Issacs character–I get the fact that he is supposed to be self-absorbed and uncaring of others, but do we really need that underlined with a scene in which he tells his wife and small child that he doesn’t want to buy a Christmas tree because of how stupid they are?

Because there are so few films out there in which the central roles are played by women out of high school–especially ones written and directed by women as well–there is the temptation to go easy on an uneven work like “Friends With Money” on the theory that a half-good attempt at something is better than no attempt at all. With Holofcener’s previous films, I could easily take that approach because the virtues of those films made them worth seeking out despite their flawed surroundings. However, not only has she not learned how to separate good ideas from bad, she is now beginning to let the bad ones dominate the proceedings to such a degree that it isn’t worth sticking around for the good stuff. Unless your idea of movie heaven is 88 minutes of largely unpleasant people engaging in largely awkward conversations to no real point, feel free to give “Friends With Money” a pass with a clear conscience.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=13575&reviewer=389
originally posted: 04/07/06 00:15:54
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2006 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Florida Film Festival For more in the 2006 Florida Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Philadelphia Film Festival For more in the 2006 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival For more in the 2006 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/22/10 the dork knight Mediations on postmodern ennui, with arguably sexist female stereotypes. 3 stars
3/29/09 amir so natural and beliveble without redundant 4 stars
1/16/09 Shaun Wallner Well made. 4 stars
9/14/08 Emily Incredibly boring. Everyone knows people like these, and you try to avoid them at all costs 1 stars
3/29/08 Pamela White much ado about nothing with money 3 stars
3/02/08 ravenmad 2 many stories. Tthe gay couple story was the most interesting. 3 stars
1/20/08 mb There is nothing there. 2 stars
8/13/07 Annonomiss Surprising gem with a low-key undertone. Loved unexpectedness of the characters' actions! 4 stars
12/04/06 Jen Kept waiting for something to happen. Sudden ending--no resolution. Very unsatisfying. 1 stars
10/11/06 Dawn I kept waiting for the "plot" to unfold and it just never did. Would not recommend seeing 1 stars
9/28/06 Jeff Anderson Unfocused, unsatisfying & film's hopelessly dull. A real shame! 1 stars
9/27/06 Juules This is one of the most boring, unsatifing and dullest films ever! 1 stars
4/30/06 Maggie I just saw this movie and felt is was BORING, SLOW, DULL with no story. 1 stars
4/24/06 Kimberly Disappointing! Ended abruptly but thank god it did. 1 stars
4/22/06 Mase Hofofcener may be a new female woody allen, however aniston is wildly miscast. 4 stars
4/22/06 Howard A 1 and 1/2 hour movie that took 4 hours to watch. 2 stars
4/21/06 Debra L Fox Not to quibble, but Jennifer Aniston's movie "The Good Girl" is from 2002, not 1992! 4 stars
4/10/06 Virginia Helfman An excellent film -- really lovely. 5 stars
4/04/06 Katrina Ok wouldn't spend more then a rental fee on it though 2 stars
3/25/06 Sylvia Augustiniok It may work for a television audience. Trivial and disappointing. 2 stars
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  07-Apr-2006 (R)
  DVD: 29-Aug-2006



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