Sunday on the Rocks

Though she's had success writing for the small screen and bigscreen, Theresa Rebeck penned "Sunday on the Rocks" for the stage, and this adaptation suggests no compelling reason why it shouldn't remain there. Incessant use of the f-word seems unwise, given pic's logical destination is Lifetime or Oxygen networks.

With:
With: Julie White, Cady Huffman, Amiee Turner, Suzzanne Douglas.

Though she’s had success writing for the small screen (“NYPD Blue”) and bigscreen (“Harriet the Spy”), Theresa Rebeck penned “Sunday on the Rocks” for the stage, and this adaptation suggests no compelling reason why it shouldn’t remain there. Apart from providing a showcase for actor-producers Cady Huffman and Amiee Turner, that is. They, and the other two thesps in this all-femme talkfest, are fine. But middling material’s unnecessary translation to film lends a vanity project air, despite OK mounting by thesp-turned-first-time feature helmer Joe Morton. Incessant use of the f-word seems unwise, given pic’s logical destination is Lifetime or Oxygen networks.

Four single women, aged 30s to early 40s (upgraded from original play’s late-twentysomethings), share a rambling old house in a New England town. With dreaded prude and rule-maker Jessica (Suzzanne Douglas) safely away at church, Elly (Julie White) cracks open a bottle of scotch on Sunday morning. The occasion: She’s just discovered she’s pregnant by a man she doesn’t love or want to marry.

Joining her in boozy games and confessions over the day’s course are generally meek Gayle (Huffman) and serial-dating Jen (Turner). By the time humorless Jessica returns, other three have made a mild mess of the house, and Elly is wound up enough to announce her planned abortion to the resident holier-than-thou.

There’s nothing very inspired or revelatory about the variably seriocomic “girl talk” that fills runtime. A late crisis involving Jen’s run-in with a co-worker-turned-suitor/stalker feels contrived simply to provide climactic melodrama.

Four leads have screen all to themselves, and while they’re capable enough, at the end of the day these characters and their issues just aren’t distinctive enough to hold more than superficial interest. Package is professionally assembled on a low budget, with a bright look that will play well on the tube.

Sunday on the Rocks

Production: A Sunday on the Rocks Ltd. presentation of a 2 Lizzies production. Produced by Cady Huffman, Amiee Turner. Directed by Joe Morton. Screenplay, Theresa Rebeck, from her play.

Crew: Camera (color), Henry Adebonojo; editor, Jeffrey Bair; production designers, Cady Huffman, Amiee Turner; set decorator, Stacey Menegay; sound, Max Kalmanowicz; assistant director, David Catalano. Reviewed at Cinequest Film Festival, San Jose, Calif., March 11, 2004. Running time: 74 MIN.

With: With: Julie White, Cady Huffman, Amiee Turner, Suzzanne Douglas.

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