Nora Ephron's debut feature, which she co-wrote with her sister Delia Ephron, is a warmhearted coming-of-age drama where comedy figures in the narrative yet does not make the movie that funny. Narrated mostly from estranged daughter Erica's (Samantha Mathis) point of view, This Is My Life follows a predictable path to tell the story of a single mother torn between her standup comedy career and watching her two daughters grow up. It's a noble character arc with the talented voice of Marge Simpson (Julie Kavner) in the role of the mother, Dottie. Unfortunately, the jokes just aren't that funny, and the stronger story line lies with dour Erica and her optimistic little sister, Opal (Gaby Hoffmann), who miss their mother and resent her career choice. Some funny character quirks do appear in the small roles of eccentric big-city agents played by Carrie Fisher and Dan Aykroyd, but such attempts fail in the neurotic bunch of baby-sitters who tell more stale jokes. This Is My Life does take a sitcom approach to the material, but the strong cast and the conflict between mother and daughter for protagonist make it a worthwhile exploration of show-biz families.
by Andrea LeVasseur review