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Stepkids Review

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13-yeart-old Laura lives with her reconstituted family after her parents divorced five years ago. She used to enjoy spending time with her father and his new family, but now he's getting another divorce and she is torn as to where her loyalties lie. The solution to her problem isto run away from home, forcing the family to spend time together again.

★★★★

In America this goes by the jaw-breakingly terrible title of Big Girls Don’t Cry . . . They Get Even, but whatever it’s called it’s a barking dog. Mixed-up kid Laura (Wolf) clues the audience in on her complicated family life in a direct-to-the-camera narration so lumberingly inelegant that it throws into sharp relief the comparatively light-handed and witty use of the device in Wayne's World.

Laura’s parents have both divorced and remarried, Mom (Margaret Whitton) to a superficial yuppie (David Strathairn) who already has a bunch of mixed-up brats of his own, and Dad (Dunne) to a decent schoolteacher (Patricia Kalember) upon whom he has fathered an adorable tot before moving on to a hippie Lady Penelope lookaline (Shelly) and impregnating her with twins.

Understandably the extended family is in an emotional state — perhaps because they’re constantly forced to listen to the excruciating parade of MOR rock duds on the soundtrack — and things get worse when Laura runs away to the mountains to be with her already runaway stepbrother (Dan Futterman) and the whole crowd descend on a lakeland campsite to sort things out.

Obviously, this bunch of rich white folks can’t have any real problems so the film has to drag out a clutch of silly little arguments that can be easily and horrifyingly resolved with an all-round hugging session in the last reel, plus some discreet rearranging of the domestic arrangements to ensure that everyone past puberty has paired off with an ideal partner. Dragged out to a punitive 104 minutes, this finds Joan Micklin Silver — who used to make excellent little films like Hester Street, Between The Lines and Crossing Delancey — floundering badly, with a likable and talented cast.

Acontrived and awkward screenplay which a talented can't even breathe life into.