×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Funny Valentines

Director Julie Dash's tribute to the strength of family ties is a bittersweet treat that borders on the maudlin but perseveres thanks to solid performances by its leads, Loretta Devine and Alfre Woodard.

With:
Joyce May - Alfre Woodard Dearie B. - Loretta Devine Ethel B. - CCH Pounder Danny - Peter Jay Fernandez Lauren - Megalyn Echikunwoke Gail - Kajuana Shuford Young Joyce - Kiara Tucker Young Dearie B - Saycon Sengbloh Robert Earl - Christopher Dunn Dr. Thomas Holder - Tom Wright Troy Watts - Von Coulter

Director Julie Dash’s tribute to the strength of family ties is a bittersweet treat that borders on the maudlin but perseveres thanks to solid performances by its leads, Loretta Devine and Alfre Woodard. Adapted from a short story by J. California Cooper, “Funny Valentines,” the first original production from BET Movies/Starz!3, is a slice-of-life story about surviving and prospering despite adversity.

When Manhattanite Joyce (Woodard) discovers that her husband is having an affair, she packs up her two daughters, Lauren (Megalyn Echikunwoke) and Gail (Kajuana Shuford), and heads home to the deep South for some recovery time. Slow-witted cousin Dearie B. (Devine) is trying to cope with her dying mother, Ethel B. (CCH Pounder), afraid that she will once again be abandoned in life, just as when Joyce was whisked off to New York in the summer of 1968. It was that summer that Dearie B. was raped by the local minister’s son, an incident that fractured the harmony of the small, God-fearing community and was later swept under the carpet to avoid a scandal.

Instead of exploiting this story for its sheer dramatic potential, writers Ron Stacker Thompson and Ashley Tyler opt for a tale about healing life’s wounds. As much as Dearie B. is treated as a victim, she is not; Joyce only needs time to realize she has the power to regain control in her life.

Director Julie Dash fosters a real sense of affection for these characters. Like her film debut, “Daughters in the Dust,” Dash provides a lush atmosphere, creating a visual treat with intricate flashback sequences and inviting locations.

Devine plays Dearie B. like a breathless, excited child, a little too giggly, a little too loud, but never pitiable. Too, Devine empowers the character with just the right amount of chutzpah. Woodard, as Joyce, is a perfect fit.

Pounder is a wonderfully powerful presence, especially in the flashback sequences, conveying most of the intense emotion with very little dialogue. The child actors including Echikunwoke as Lauren and Saycon Sengbloh as the young Dearie B., put in noteworthy performances. Technical credits are above par.

Funny Valentines

Starz!; Sun. Feb. 14, 8 p.m.

Production: Filmed in North Carolina by Chelsey Avenue Prods. in association with BET Movies/Starz!3 and Studios USA Pictures. Executive producers, Ron Stacker Thompson, Ashley Tyler, Alfre Woodard; producer, Scott White; director, Julie Dash; writers, Thompson, Tyler, Amy Scar Farris

Crew: Camera, Karl Hermann; editor, H. Sharif Frisina; music Stanley Clarke; production designer, Pam Warner; casting A. Edelman, Elisa Goodman. 2 HOURS.

Cast: Joyce May - Alfre Woodard Dearie B. - Loretta Devine Ethel B. - CCH Pounder Danny - Peter Jay Fernandez Lauren - Megalyn Echikunwoke Gail - Kajuana Shuford Young Joyce - Kiara Tucker Young Dearie B - Saycon Sengbloh Robert Earl - Christopher Dunn Dr. Thomas Holder - Tom Wright Troy Watts - Von Coulter

More TV

  • James Holzhauer $2 million

    'Jeopardy!' Champion James Holzhauer Hits $2 Million Winnings Milestone

    This current “Jeopardy!” player has just won over $2 million on the popular game show. Who is James Holzhauer? The 34 year old professional sports gambler from Las Vegas has hit a “Jeopardy!” milestone by becoming only the second person in the show’s history to win over $2 million in regular season play. Holzhauer won [...]

  • Kanye West Shares a Memory of

    Kanye West Shares a Touching Memory of His Mother in Letterman Interview

    In a preview of David Letterman’s interview with Kanye West, which begins streaming next Friday, May 31, the musician’s wife Kim Kardashian West, tweeted a clip of him sharing a touching memory of his mother, Donda, who died in 2007 after a surgical procedure. While his wife looks on smiling, West answers Letterman’s question about [...]

  • CNN Lays Off Some Health Journalism

    CNN Lays Off Some Health Journalism Staffers

    CNN has laid off a handful of staffers from its health-journalism unit after deciding to place its health, climate and Southeastern newsgathering operations under a single aegis. ” As part of the normal course of business, our newsgathering team made a small restructure earlier this week that ultimately impacts 6-7 employees within CNN’s Health Unit,” [...]

  • Henry Ian Cusick

    'Lost' Star Henry Ian Cusick Signs With Buchwald (EXCLUSIVE)

    Henry Ian Cusick, best known for playing Desmond on the hit ABC series “Lost,” is signing with talent agency Buchwald for representation. Cusick also starred in the CW sci-fi/drama “The 100” and was most recently seen in the Fox series “The Passage.” His other notable television credits include “Scandal,” “24,” “Fringe,” “The Mentalist,” “Body of [...]

  • Bryan Cranston First Time in Variety

    Bryan Cranston on His Early Roles, Dealing With Rejection and His 'Erasable Mind'

    Following his 2014 Tony Award for best actor as President Lyndon B. Johnson in Robert Schenkkan’s play “All the Way,” Bryan Cranston is looking to add to his trophy collection this year with his performance as Howard Beale in “Network.” The deranged anchorman — who’s famously “mad as hell and not going to take this [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content