What was Diane Keaton thinking when she signed on to play a shrill, off-putting mother whose unbelievable, over-the-top antics are utterly annoying to watch? Even the title is annoying.
Single mom Daphne Wilder (Keaton) wants nothing more for her three daughters than to see them happy, which in her mind means married and settled down. While her older girls, sensible psychiatrist Maggie (Lauren Graham) and wild-child Mae (Piper Perabo), have met their matches, free-spirited Milly (Mandy Moore) has yet to meet a man who truly gets her. Clumsy and laid-back, Milly is also charming and more like her mother than she'd care to admit. She's a magnet for heartbreakers and unsuitable men, and drives away professional types with her obnoxious laugh. Determined to find the perfect fella for her problem child, Daphne places an enticing online personal and arranges to vet the potential suitors at a fancy hotel. Jazz musician Johnny (Gabriel Macht) notices that she's interviewing a parade of unqualified candidates and wants to toss his hat in the ring, but his tattoo and bad-boy image disqualify him. She instead chooses wealthy, well-dressed architect Jason (Tom Everett Scott), and together they cook up a plan to trick Milly into going on a date. Meanwhile, Johnny has secretly discovered where Milly works and piques her interest by laughing at her clumsy, static-filled encounter with a balloon. Milly begins dating both guys but can't relax with sleek, assertive Jason, whom meddling Daphne insists that she keep dating anyway.
Director Michael Lehmann knows his way around romantic comedies (his credits include 40 DAYS AND 40 NIGHTS and THE TRUTH ABOUT CATS AND DOGS) but stumbles badly here, starting with the fact that the film brings together four strong lead actresses yet fails to play to their strengths. Keaton is wonderful when she's being cute and neurotic, but overbearing and grating don't suit her. Moore does her best, but the film goes out of its way to work in a scene with her singing; she's a good enough actress that there's no need to haul out her musical abilities when they have no bearing on the plot. Graham (of TV's Gilmore Girls) has a few entertaining scenes with a patient named Stuart (Tony Hale), but the fact is, he doesn't seem much crazier than Daphne. Overall, Graham and Perabo have so little to do that it's hard to imagine why Maggie has three daughters instead of one; they just clutter up her screen time. As to Perabo, she seems to exist for the sole purpose of making risque remarks, and the family dog has more memorable moments. leave a comment --Angel Cohn