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Comedy Movies - Geraldine's Fortune


Geraldine's FortuneJane Curtin, Mary Walsh
Directed by John N Smith
Seville Pictures 2004
93 minutes

Geraldine's Fortune is your typical Canadian comedy movie. It features a couple of B-list American actors (Jane Curtin of Saturday Night Live fame and Matt Frewer), a few Canadian stars such as the great Mary Walsh and Marina Orsini, and a good story drowned in bad direction and extraneous scenes. The opening of the movie says "Inspired by Michel Tremblay's Les Belles Soeurs" which usually means that at some point in time the author didn't like the final product -which is why Simon Birch is "inspired by" A Prayer For Owen Meany."

This could have been an excellent movie. The plot is very similar to the original Tremblay play in that a woman has a chance at a fortune but her relatives have a negative influence on the outcome. The story is transposed to New Brunswick (hence Mary Walsh) and from Gold Star stamps to a TV show very similar to Who Wants to be A Millionaire?

The second half of the movie is very funny and respects the spirit of the play. The first half of this comedy, replete with stock footage of Saint John, New Brunswick (you even see the same car parked in the exact same spot -with Quebec plates no less- at least twice in the movie because they didn't even buy enough stock footage), is a long introduction to what the story really is. Matt Frewer plays the TV host and he is as weird as ever doing his best second-rate bad Jim Carrey impressions.

Les Belles Soeurs is an excellent story (and a classic Canadian play) of a family imploding around itself and the later half of Geraldine's Fortune respects that spirit. There is even a sequence of scenes that go from the events back at Geraldine's house to Geraldine answering the questions on the TV show that are quite brilliantly cut so that Geraldine's answer matches the events back at her house.

Unfortunately, the ending feels like it was revised half a dozen times. Also unfortunate is the presence of great actress Monique Mercure as the senile grandmother (who does have a say in the story, way, way at the end). One can only hope she got paid well for accepting such a lousy role.

Geraldine's Fortune is a Canadian comedy: not funny.

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