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The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio (PG-13)

Release Date: September 30th, 2005 (NYC-Loews 68th/Broadway, Clearview 62nd/1st, and AMC Empire 25) by Dreamworks Pictures.
The Cast: Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern.
Directed by Jane Anderson.

BASIC PREMISE: Evelyn Ryan (Moore) supports her ten kids and an alcoholic husband (Harrelson) by winning many prizes during the 1950's and 60's. Based on a true story.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Your enjoyment of this film depends on how much you like Julianne Moore because she is in almost every scene. She has tried comedy before in the horribly written film Laws of Attraction. However, this film gives her a much better script to show off her comedic talents. The set design, costume design, makeup, and hairstyles, all give the film a very authentic feeling of the 50's and 60's. Evelyn wins many prizes, such as a refrigerator, shoes, a sled, and even a shopping spree. It seems very surreal and even magical, but it all based on a true story. There is a very well-shot scene with a montage of all her prizes. Before you think that she is the world's luckiest person, think again: her husband is abusive, jealous, and spends all of his money on booze. She can't even afford to pay the milkman on time. There's a humorous scene when he shows up at the door demanding his payment while she looks through her mail and finds a few dollars that she won at a contest. What are the chances of that? Her luck continues as she enters a big contest with over 200,000 contestants. At one point, she meets another lucky prize winner (Dern) with whom she can relate to. There are a few scenes that feel like a soap-opera, such as when her husband's verbal abuse comes into play. The plot is unsurprising and occasionally feels redundant, but Moore's appealing performance as well as the very accurate details of the time period. Add a few musical numbers---not with Moore, though---and this is one very fun and lively period piece.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: It takes a lot for one person to withstand as much harassment and abuse as Evelyn withstands from her husband. No matter what, she never kicks him out of the house or threatens to divorced him. She is also a very forgiving, loving, kind, and smart woman. However, she is not as perfect as she seems, but she always remains mentally strong and confident without being full-of-herself. She is a true role-model.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: The plot is occasionally redundant.


THE BOTTOM LINE: A very well-written period piece with perfect production values that give the true look and feel of the 50's and 60's. Moore shines in both her comedic as well as her dramatic moments.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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