A colourful, wisecracking mother is bringing up two daughters - a teen on the brink of womanhood and an adorable ten-year-old. Sound familiar? It should, since not only does this bear more than a passing resemblance to Mermaids, it also shares some dysfunctional family traumas with almost every "mother-daughter thing" from Mildred Pierce to Postcards From The Edge.
Julie Kavner is stand-up comic Dottie, whose progress from wacky cosmetics pitches in Macy's department store to national TV fame is suitably amusing. Forever clad in signature polka dot ensembles, and introducing her routines with the catchphrase lament, "This is my life!", Kavner - long overdue for a lead other than voicing Marge in The Simpsons - has enough snappy believability to hold one's sympathies through her dilemma of remaining a nurturing mom while making her dreams come true.
On the home front, 16-year-old Erica (Mathis) is sharing her life with us via voice-over narration as she conflicts between proud affection for mom and resentment that Dottie is not home to keep abreast of emotional developments like first love; while younger child Opal (Hoffmann) copes with an oddball team of child-minders - wacky aspiring comedians all - and shares with Erica the yearning to trace their long-gone father. Debut director Nora Ephron, having adapted Meg Wolitzer's novel with her sister Delia, manages to keep proceedings bouncing along nicely, even if originality isn't her strong suit, and the female characters are pleasing enough if you like this kind of thing.