“Angie” is a skin-deep feel-good movie about such less-than-breezy issues as a broken engagement, childbirth, single motherhood, infant infirmities and discovering brutal truths about your parents. By stressing the warm and giggly aspects of this viewer-friendly character study of an independent-minded Brooklyn lady, filmmakers would seem to have insured themselves a solid commercial berth at the B.O., but in the process have suppressed the psychological and dramatic potential with which the material is pregnant.
On the bright side is a star performance from Geena Davis in which the dazzling actress remains centerscreen virtually at all times, as well as an appealing turn by Stephen Rea as a wry Irish suitor who sticks around as long as it suits him. On the downside, pic goes mushy soft when confronted with its assorted heavy issues, leaving it incapable of delivering the goods required in the last reel or two.
Davis plays Angie Scacciapensieri, a spirited working girl from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, who finds herself pregnant by her b.f., Vinnie the plumber (James Gandolfini). For a while she goes through the wedding-plan motions expected of her, but after a meet-cute with the raffish Noel (Rea), she dumps Vinnie and starts dating Noel, without any assurances the Irishman is going to be there when she needs him.
The stages of Angie’s pregnancy, from the nausea to the doctor’s examinations , are amusingly if lightly detailed, on the way to story’s centerpiece, a childbirth scene that’s played mostly for laughs.
Entertaining on a superficial level up to here, film falls entirely flat thereafter, as director Martha Coolidge is unable to successfully shift the tone to something graver and more substantial. Todd Graff’s script (originally written for Madonna) clearly aspires to be deeply moving and deliver a life’s-arc catharsis, but the best the film manages is to hit an occasionally touching chord.
Still, there are enough moments of recognition and heartfelt humor to keep auds on Angie’s side, and Davis is a pleasure to watch throughout even though the script provides no psychological depth or complexity to her character. In his American film debut, Rea perks matters up considerably whenever he appears.
Abetted by a number of pop tunes, Jerry Goldsmith’s score is effective, and tech credits are solid.