No Laughing Matter

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Since 4 year-old Charlie Poleski’s dad Matt’s death while on police duty, he has been common working mother Emma’s pride and joy. She messes up the first meeting with his girlfriend Lauren …

ACTORS :  Suzanne Somers, Chad Christ, Selma Blair

YEAR OF RELEASE :  1998

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No Laughing Matter Since 4 year-old Charlie Poleski’s dad Matt’s death while on police duty, he has been common working mother Emma’s pride and joy. She messes up the first meeting with his girlfriend Lauren Winslow’s rich, posh parents, because of her recurring drinking problem. Charlie single-handedly get her sober and into AA, just in time to stand a chance of keeping her office job. Charlie’s father’s police friend, Richard Warren, becomes her lover and his mentor. Alas, Chad and Lauren also find themselves in another tough situation which changes everything.

Suzannne Somers does quite well…she is not over the top;

No Laughing Matter  which says a great deal, for a Lifetime Movie. While the other characters are a bit underdeveloped, the audience empathizes with Ms. Somers, who portrays a widow raising a son,(Chad Allen) on her own.

Robert Desiderio portrays a concerned suitor (to Somers) who tries to help Charlie (Jonathan Jackson) decide between college or young fatherhood; while the story is hardly original, Desiderio adds substance to the film, as does Suzanne Somers.

In real life, Ms. Somers endured veritable hell, as her own father was a full-blown alcoholic; this is part of the reason, I believe, that she does so well in this movie, and deserves special mention. I would like to see her in more of these roles, where she has a chance to be more than the trite blonde femme fatale.

Selma Blair has the part of the troubled girlfriend; this was the only weak link to the story; while Somers is struggling to survive and pay her mortgage, the son’s girlfriend lives in a mausoleum; this is the usual Lifetime plot exaggeration, to show the audience that Somers (the alcoholic) has it worse than the “öther people” of upper classes. This is a banal exaggeration; think of real people who “have it all”(Betty Ford, Elizabeth Taylor, Kate Moss; et. al.) and you will see my point.

While there are several flaws in the story flow, Somers especially makes the story work. She is believable and sympathetic; the part where she finally attends AA is realistic.

No Laughing Matter The one issue that was hard to swallow was her employer, generously offering her 3 months sabbatical, after learning of her illness. This movie may have been even more effective if it addressed real-life employment issues, where people are fired for having excessive absences even due to medical illness. This is a prevalent problem in American society, which is rarely addressed by Hollywood filmmakers.

Despite this, it is a worthwhile movie, and if you have any friends or relatives with this problem, it will certainly show you the unintentionally selfish acts of the alcoholic, who can rarely receive treatment until they decide to do so.

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