A schlepper turns star but finds that when your kids still need you, success is all very complicated in This Is My Life, a deftly accomplished directorial debut from scripter Nora Ephron. Glib urban sensibility that informed Ephron's screenplay for When Harry Met Sally . . . is toned down this time in favor of humbler, texture-of-life comedy co-scripted with sister Delia.

A schlepper turns star but finds that when your kids still need you, success is all very complicated in This Is My Life, a deftly accomplished directorial debut from scripter Nora Ephron. Glib urban sensibility that informed Ephron’s screenplay for When Harry Met Sally . . . is toned down this time in favor of humbler, texture-of-life comedy co-scripted with sister Delia.

Julie Kavner stars as a New Jersey divorcee who hams it up in her cosmetics counter selling placenta extract and exfoliating wax to Jewish mavens, then shares her excess comic energy with her 16- and 10-year-old daughters (Samantha Mathis, Gaby Hoffmann) as they dream of her comedy breakthrough.

When an aunt leaves Kavner some start-up money, she packs the kids up for Manhattan, and before long her dreams do start to come true. But it’s more than the teenage daughter, who’s introverted and dependent, can handle.

Based on a novel [of the same name] by Meg Wolitzer, pic moves along quite briskly. Comedienne Kavner gives a zesty and touching perf as the mom coming into her own, and both girls, particularly Mathis as the confused, hypercritical teen, are quite skillful. Carrie FIsher contributes a deft and savory turn as a glib and chummy agent.

This Is My Life

Production

20th Century-Fox. Director Nora Ephron; Producer Lynda Obst; Screenplay Nora Ephron, Delia Ephron; Camera Bobby Byrne; Editor Robert Reitano; Music Carly Simon; Art Director Barbra Matis

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1992. Running time: 105 MIN.

With

Julie Kavner Samantha Mathis Gaby Hoffmann Carrie Fisher Dan Aykroyd Danny Zorn

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