More of Me
Empty9-11 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 17
Lifetime Network's new original movie "More of Me" is the essence of charm. It has a generous spirit (it is, after all, the holidays) and a splendid heroine, brilliantly played by funnygirl Molly Shannon. The story of a housewife/mother/all-around do-gooder, the movie makes the most of Shannon's comedic gifts. After this, she'll be etched forever in our memories as the essential 21st century everywoman. Here she takes on too much, is pulled in every direction and eventually pays the price -- but in the funniest way imaginable.
Shannon is the goodhearted homemaker named Alice who just tries to make it through each day. That's not easy, with an attentive husband (the ever-charming and funny Steven Weber), two young kids and a fierce desire to save the environment and rally for various social causes. One day Alice just can't take the stress anymore; she looks in the mirror and cracks. Suddenly, there are three of her instead of one. Yes, each of her has a body and a mind of her own. Is this a good thing? Maybe, maybe not.
In the tradition of memorable women who have cracked up on celluloid -- think of characters belonging to Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and Barbara Stanwyck -- Shannon does it with the best of them, humorously speaking, of course. She's the direct descendent of Lily Tomlin's "The Incredible Shrinking Woman." The look on her faces -- that's right, faces -- is classic in its bewilderment, whimsy, even its seriousness (which, by the way, also is hilarious). There's no doubt that each time she throws the camera one of her confused glances, females out there in the audience will lose themselves in laughter.
Kelli Pryor's script is brilliant at catching the irony of Alice's situation. Alice is simply a woman stretched too thin and barely making it though the day and all her commitments. Pryor's eye for finding the emotional stressors that mark female lives these days is uncanny. Just watching Alice's lifestyle can make our pulses race. One minute she's up a tree trying to save its life while staving off reporters and a mayor who wants to tear the tree down; the next minute she's making a gazillion cupcakes for her kid's classroom. In between all of this, she's trying to find a moment alone with her husband. It turns out that she, not he, has forgotten their anniversary. When, we wonder, does it end? And how?
Finding the humor in all the tumult is like finding pure gold. Director Daisy von Scherler Mayer gets every nuance of Alice's crazy life. What's more, this director knows that a close-up of Shannon, no matter what character she's playing, is worth millions.
MORE OF ME
Jaffe/Braunstein Entertainment in association with Andrea Simon Entertainment for Lifetime Television
Executive producers: Howard Braunstein, Michael Jaffe, Andrea Simon
Co-executive producer: Robyn Snyder
Producer: Steve Solomos
Teleplay/co-producer: Kelli Pryor
Director: Daisy von Scherler Mayer
Music: Jeff Cardoni
Editor: Adam Weiss
Production designer: Marian Wihak
Director of photography: Rhett Morita
Casting: Jami Rudofsky
Alice McGrath: Molly Shannon
Rex McGrath: Steven Weber
Ginni: Kimberly Huie
Twins: Jake Beale, Abigail Falle