Wise Girls

on January 13, 2002 by Annlee Ellingson
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   “Wise Girls” so wants to be “Goodfellas” for the distaff set, concentrating on the special bond among three women surrounded by made men. But with a script devoid of originality, storytelling hindered by sloppy packaging and lead actresses with something desperate to prove (Mira Sorvino that she deserves her Oscar, despite her post-“Mighty Aphrodite” choices; Mariah Carey that she can cross over to acting, despite her critically panned and publicly ignored debut vehicle “Glitter”), “Wise Girls” looks and feels like a project better suited for the small screen.

   Sorvino stars as Meg, an ex-med school student who moves back to New York after a personal tragedy to live with her catatonic grandmother. Upon the recommendation of her grandma's caretaker, she takes a job as a waitress at a family-run Italian restaurant. It isn't long before she realizes what kind of family.

   But her surgical skills come in handy, and the tips are good, so she sticks it out. Meanwhile, Meg forms a fast friendship with her co-workers, Raychel (Carey), a spitfire on track for a management position, and Kate (Melora Walters), a timid aspiring actress.

   Sorvino is earnest in her role, trying to show dramatic depth, especially in her scenes with her non-responsive grandmother, but her sincerity becomes affected and indulgent. Carey, on the other hand, is fun to watch, pulling off saucy better than her sweet role in “Glitter.” Of the principle three, Walters is the strongest, her talent particularly apparent late in the film when her character takes a 180-degree turn. The chemistry among these three is lacking, however, failing to convey real intimacy.

   As for the rest of the film, the supporting characters are shallow, the editing is awkward, the interpersonal moments are saccharine, and the coda is implausible.    Starring Mira Sorvino, Mariah Carey and Melora Walters. Directed by David Anspaugh. Written by John Meadows. Produced by Anthony Esposito. A Lions Gate release. Drama. Not yet rated. Running time: 95 min.

Tags: Mira Sorvino, Maria Carey, Melora Walters, David Anspaugh, terminal illness, family drama, mobsters
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