When Manny Singer's wife dies, his young daughter Molly becomes mute and withdrawn. Enter Whoopi Goldberg.
Hows this for strange? A romantic feel-good movie with Ray Liotta as a gentle and sensitive writer of advertising jingles and Whoopi Goldberg as his jazz-loving maid. Writer-director Jessie Nelsons first feature is set in a neat middle-class Los Angeles in 1959 where recently widowed Manny Singer (Liotta) tries in vain to comfort his young daughter Molly (Majorino), the short, silent type, and subsequently advertises for a maid to look after the house. He gets a variety of freakish applicants before settling on music graduate Corrina (Goldberg).
The rest of the film sees Molly trying to bring together her tense, nervy father and the sassy maid. Goldberg really looks the part of a hip thirtysomething widow and swaggers into the film dragging on a cigarette, looking sleeker and sexier than she has ever been on screen. There are a few funny moments, but these are outgunned by several scenes of syrupy homespun gush between the central characters. And somehow the chemistry between Manny and Corrina doesnt seem quite believable.
Majorino is an improvement on the usual sickly sweet child stars, yet she is more effective when not speaking. There are some good female roles Jenifer Lewis as Corrinas suspicious sister, an amusing cameo from Joan Cusack as the first failed nanny but the film skirts around the potential problems of a mixed relationship in 1950s America without ever digging too deep. Ultimately, its a sweet film Liotta doesnt even get to beat anybody up though its mix of hot stars, cool jazz records and cute kids is all heart and no soul.
Bland feel-good comedy.