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Friends with Money (R)





Release Date: April 7th, 2006 by Sony Pictures Classics.

The Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Frances McDormand, Joan Cusack, Catherine Keener, Jason Isaacs, Scott Caan, Simon McBurney, Greg Germann, Ty Burrell.
Directed by Nicole Holofcener.

BASIC PREMISE: Money affects the lives of four middle-aged friends living in Los Angeles.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Friends with Money is character-driven from start to finish. Franny (Cusack) has the most money, but a not-so-happy marriage. She wishes she had a job other than being a mother and housewife. Christine (Keener) and her husband (Isaac) take turns writing screenplays on their laptop computer. Likewise, they also have marriage problems. Jane (McDormand) goes through a midlife crisis while using the expletive at every little annoyance around her. She refuses to shampoo her hair because she thinks itís pointless and tediousómuch like this film. On top of that, she suspects her husband (McBurney) might be a homosexual. Finally, Olivia (Aniston), the youngest friend, struggles with love and money while working as a maid. Aniston gives a solid performance, very similar to the one in The Good Girl óespecially since both characters are single, lonely and somewhat downbeat. The stand-out performance goes to Frances McDormand who adds a lot of flair, charisma, and laugh-out-loud humor to the bitchy character of Jane. Writer/director Nicole Holofcener infuses some subtlety and realism into the screenplay while occasionally veering into soap-opera territory. The characters are engaging as are their scenes, but, as an inter-connected whole, itís not focused enough. In other words, the friendship between these four L.A. friends seems a bit contrived. Theyíre certainly there for one another, yet without the chemistry of truly close friends.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Modern relationships get more complex and difficult once money enters the picture. Itís nice to know that the four friends support one another mentally and financially, but, in reality, thatís not always the case. Overall, Friends with Money doesnít really take a firm stance with anything new or profound about any kind of relationship, whether between friends or lovers.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Occasionally unfocused and contrived.

NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 1

IN A NUTSHELL: Well-cast with engaging performances and a humorous script, but occasionally contrived, unfocused and ultimately dull.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: VHS/DVD


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