February 29, 2000 -- The first three-quarters of this movie are just awful, a series of little disjointed segments of a story that don't fit together. I didn't walk out because I held out hope that at some point the story would start making sense, and it finally did. I guess some people feel the same way about life. They either end it all when they are young or hang around a while to see if it starts making sense later. I guess I'm one of those guys who sees the glass as half full.
"Hanging Up," stars the wonderfully likeable Meg Ryan ("You've Got Mail") as Eve, the dutiful daughter (a character type very common in families of alcoholics) who tries to do everything to take care of her Alzheimer-stricken father, who nevertheless likes the successful sister best. The successful sister, Georgia, played by Diane Keaton (who also directs the film) runs her own magazine. The other daughter, Maddy (played by Lisa Kudrow of "Analyze This") is an actress on a soap opera.
Together, the share a common problem, their father, Lou, a former screenwriter, is a real handful for poor Eve. Their mother split the scene a long time ago, deciding that motherhood was not for her, but Lou and Eve want her back anyway for some reason. Eve's husband, or boyfriend or whatever, Joe (Adam Arkin "Halloween H20) appears briefly in the film for no particular reason, other than to look exasperated at the emotional tantrums everyone is tossing around like hand grenades. Later, he leaves on a business trip. I felt jealous. I wanted to go with him. The trip had to be more interesting than what he left behind.
The first three-quarters of the movie are filled with desperate attempts at humor and sentimentality, neither of which work in the slightest. When you try to balance humor and pathos, it is like walking a tightrope. This story falls off the tightrope and plunges to its death, taking the audience with it. Meg Ryan tries to hold all this together, but most of the time she seems to be in the throes of hysteria (she also has one of the worst haircuts I have ever seen; it looks as though it were cut by a blind chimpanzee wielding dull scissors). Lou, although drunk or addled most of the time, turns out to be one of the steadiest characters in the movie. He even starts to seem normal after a while.
At the end of the movie, it finally settles down to more or less pure sentimentality and that does work to a degree, but boy you have to sit through a lot of crap to get that far. My advice is, get out and enjoy the nice weather we've been having lately. Take a walk, call some members of your family or some old friends on the phone and have a nice talk. Clear out the junk in those old filing cabinets. Reorganize your financial records. Trim your toenails. Change the oil in the car. There are an infinite number of things you can do with your life that will be more rewarding and enjoyable than watching this movie. It rates an F.
Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.