Manna from Heaven

"Manna From Heaven" was co-produced by five filmmaking sisters -- two of whom serve as co-directors -- and written by the siblings' award-winning author mother. This family affair is a squeaky-clean cable-ready comedy, unabashedly retro fluff with limited theatrical potential.

With:
With: Seymour Cassel, Shelley Duvall, Jill Eikenberry, Louise Fletcher, Frank Gorshin, Faye Grant, Harry Groener, Shirley Jones, Cloris Leachman, Wendie Malick, Austin Pendleton, Maria Burton, Ursula Burton.

“Manna From Heaven” was co-produced by five filmmaking sisters — two of whom serve as co-directors — and written by the siblings’ award-winning author mother. This family affair is a squeaky-clean cable-ready comedy, unabashedly retro fluff with limited theatrical potential. Even so, tube prospects are greatly enhanced by sprinkling of familiar names in cast.

Prologue has a transport van accidentally dumping a blizzard of $20 bills into a Buffalo, N.Y., neighborhood. The money is grabbed by a small group of relatives and close friends, encouraged by a precocious youngster who assumes the money is “a gift from God.” Flash-forward 30 years: The girl has grown up to be a nun, Sister Theresa (Ursula Burton), who now insists the money was a loan, and that God wants to be repaid. Miraculously, she convinces the original group to organize raffles and a dance competition to raise sufficient cash, even though no one knows where the original windfall came from. “Manna From Heaven” is too cute and contrived by half, and the entire enterprise suggests a strenuously heart-tugging sitcom. Still, helmers Maria and Gabrielle C. Burton get fine perfs from veteran players. Tech values are adequate.

Manna from Heaven

Production: A Five Sisters production. Produced by Maria Burton, Jennifer Burton, Ursula Burton, Gabrielle C. Burton, Charity Burton. Directed by Gabrielle C. Burton, Maria Burton. Screenplay, Gabrielle B. Burton.

Crew: Camera (color), Ed Slattery; editors, Andy Peterson, Robert Tate; production designer, Linda Louise Sheets; associate producers, William A. Lagan, Al Dinneen. Reviewed at South by Southwest Film Festival (competing), Austin, Texas, March 13, 2001. Running time: 110 MIN.

With: With: Seymour Cassel, Shelley Duvall, Jill Eikenberry, Louise Fletcher, Frank Gorshin, Faye Grant, Harry Groener, Shirley Jones, Cloris Leachman, Wendie Malick, Austin Pendleton, Maria Burton, Ursula Burton.

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