TV Review: ‘A Day Late and a Dollar Short’

A Day late and a dollar

Whoopi Goldberg wears so many hats it’s easy to forget that she can be a pretty fine actress when she gets the opportunity. Such is the case with “A Day Late and a Dollar Short,” a crazily soapy Lifetime movie so steeped in melodrama that the two responses are to either roll one’s eyes or to happily succumb — and keep a box of tissues handy. Cast to the hilt, this Lifetime movie is the network’s latest to feature a predominantly African-American ensemble, in practical terms wedding the network’s older-female niche to a demographic that’s often underserved on TV in regard to serious drama.

Based on the bestseller by Terry McMillan (“How Stella Got Her Groove Back”), the movie stars Goldberg as Viola Price, the ailing matriarch of a big, fractious, squabbling family. That includes her estranged husband (Ving Rhames) and four grown kids, played by Anika Noni Rose, Tichina Arnold, Kimberly Elise and Mekhi Phifer.

Thirty years of smoking have caught up with Viola, and her family’s screaming matches have left her feeling she needs to take action and try to repair some of the damage while she still can. “I can’t have them killing each other after I’m gone,” she says in the voiceover narration.

Yet to say everyone has issues would be the epitome of understatement — including some very unpleasant stuff involving Viola’s grandchildren. Faced with a “Get your affairs in order” diagnosis, Viola goes about the task of concealing the bad news from her family, while simultaneously trying to fix them, or at least, put them on a more even path, so that she can go to the great beyond feeling like everything will be OK.

The nature of the problems, alas, prevents facile solutions. That sort of inevitably forces the movie (directed by Stephen Tolkin, from an adaptation by Shernold Edwards) to shoehorn a lot of business into the TV-movie format, racing through the schmaltzy part near the end. Chalk it up as a tribute to the actors — and perhaps Jeff Beal’s score — that it plays as well as it does.

Lifetime obviously has a certain formula to its movies, and by that measure, the literary underpinnings and cast reveal “A Day Late and a Dollar Short” as a slightly more ambitious offering, without really deviating from the basic template.

One could ask for more, but like Viola, after 30 years of inhaling this stuff, it might be a little too late to start.

TV Review: 'A Day Late and a Dollar Short'

(Movie; Lifetime, Sat. April 19, 8 p.m.)


Filmed in Toronto by Ostar Prods.


Executive producers, Stephen Tolkin, Whoopi Goldberg, Tom Leonardis, Jeffrey Hayes, Bill Haber; producer, Greg Copeland; director, Tolkin; writer, Shernold Edwards; based on the book by Terry McMillan; camera, David Greene; production designer, Eric Fraser; editor, George Roulston; music, Jeff Beal; casting, Junie Lowry Johnson, Libby Goldstein. 120 MIN.


Whoopi Goldberg, Ving Rhames, Mekhi Phifer, Kimberly Elise, Tichina Arnold, Anika Noni Rose

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  1. Heather says:

    I set my DVR to record it on my lifetime channel, 108. When I went to check it, it was the movie Premonition. So, I did another search for it. I again set it. Guess what, Premonition again.
    Those were the only times my search said it was going to play.

  2. Rian says:

    I absolutely loved this movie. I recorded out on my dvr and my daughter and I can’t stop watching it!!

  3. Annette says:

    The show was hypnotic. The characters were so real to life. They reminded you of someone you knew or had heard about. I found myself in tears several times. The cast was a superb group of actors!

  4. Chanel says:

    Fabulous. It is so real in today’s households, you could adapt to all the characters because it reminded you of someone in your own family for sure, been there done that type of situation , kudos to the cast for doing a superb job.

  5. Deborah says:

    I absolutely adore this movie. I became entrenched in the story as though I was the proverbial ‘fly on the wall’. This film rivals the quality of anything in the theater. The cast showed a depth in their characters which isn’t seen in Hollywood often. This is definitely an Emmy worthy piece.

  6. samantha says:

    GREAT movie oh my gosh..seriously it was so good that I watched all three back to back showings on lifetime and teared up all 3 times TEAR JERKER all the way…Very will most likely be able to relate to any one of the situations. In all honesty this movie should have been in theaters.. In my opinion it tops every movie in theaters now! Man Lifetime moving up.

    • valorie says:

      I read the book many years ago & was curious. It was well done. I have a son who is not a bad person, I so related to son & mom relationship.This is so heartfelt. I dropped tears on many scenes. I also love Whoopi & have since day one. She can do no wrong by me. The person who cast this movie was totally on point. I can watch this over and over. Excellent movie.

  7. PERLA says:


  8. darcell says:

    Not All of what you ses.

    Love is more than words, good show Terry , good show…..

    Cast thank you for Fun therapy. …

  9. darcell says:

    Great, so to the point.

    Looking on the inside out is not of what you see.

  10. etalk says:

    So frustrating to always see viewers in Canada lose out on great television. Ironic because this was filmed in Toronto…ridiculous.

  11. Marian Ball says:

    I wish that the movie would be shown in Canada. I have seen most if not all of Whoopi’s movies……she is the best actor ever!
    I will keep checking our cable provider to see when & when it arrives in Canada.

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