Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Starter Wife (2007-TV miniseries) [UR] ****

After twelve years of helping her husband Kenny (Peter Jacobson) climb the film studio corporate ladder to become president, Molly Kagan (Debra Messing) gets dumped for a young starlet named Shoshanna (Trilby Glover). At first, Molly is devastated. Some of her friends abandon her, she loses her club membership, and she's ignored at exclusive restaurants. Fortunately, her good friend Joan (Judy Davis) invites her to house-sit her beach-front Malibu Colony home for the summer. Joan is an alcoholic, and when her husband sends her to a spa in Ojai, Molly helps her escape. Molly and Cricket (Miranda Otto) are very close, but Cricket's film director husband Jorge (Aden Young) needs Kenny to greenlight his project and he forces Cricket to cut Molly off. Then Cricket catches Jorge with their Russian nanny. Molly's gay decorator friend Rodney (Chris Diamantopoulos) is flat broke and has commitment issues. Lavender (Anika Noni Rose), the colony's security guard, is being evicted from her apartment, along with her grandmother and dog. Lou Manahan (Joe Mantegna) the studio CEO is bored with his life and contemplates dropping out - or worse. And homeless drifter Sam (Stephen Moyer) saves Molly from drowning when her kayak overturns, and then asks her if her life was worth saving.

The Starter Wife would have been a good 100-minute film, but there are too many non-essential sub-plots and supporting characters. Messing has romantic opportunities with both Mantegna and Moyer, but there's no chemistry; Mantegna is much too old for her, and Moyer is too squinty-eyed and weasel-like. Debra Messing is a decent comic actress, but she isn't strong enough to open a film. She needs to be paired with a strong male lead, as she was with Dermot Mulroney in The Wedding Date. For a far better satire on the film industry, I highly recommend David Mamet's State and Main

Labels: comedy, drama, filmmaking, romance

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