Film Reviews


By • Apr 7th, 2006 •

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Sony Pictures Classics / This Is That Prods.
No MPAA rating / Running time — 88 minutes

QUOTE: Boring rich people have to put up with a pot-smoking friend who insists on being single, a stalker, and a maid.

Get this! People with money have problems! The Los Angeles women in Nicole Holofcener’s FRIENDS WITH MONEY are disagreeable. You will want to choke them. The film revolves around Olivia (Jennifer Aniston) who has dropped out of the race, but still needs her friends for occasional loans. She is stalking a former married lover and quit her job as a schoolteacher. She is now a pot-smoking maid barely making a living. Her friends have lots of money. They gossip incessantly about each other.

Olivia’s friends include married couple Christine (Catherine Keener) and David (Jason Isaacs). They are screenwriters building a huge extension on their house. They work together but Christine has confided to Jane (Frances McDormand) they have not had sex in over a year. They have a young son. Christine is obsessed with Jane’s husband Aaron (Simon McBurney). She keeps telling everyone he is gay.

Jane, a messy but hugely successful designer, is married to very devoted Aaron. For some quirky reason, L.A. gay men are all hot for middle-aged Aaron. Is he gay, or just aware of how the cut of a well-made shirt should hang? Even if Aaron is gay, he adores Jane. They have sex. Jane is angry, miserable, and doesn’t want to wash her hair. Oh, the pain of washing one’s own hair! It doesn’t really matter, since Aaron thinks she is the most beautiful woman in any room.

Franny (Joan Cusack) and her husband Matt (Greg Germann) are also immensely wealthy. They get along just fine. Matt thinks she is the most beautiful woman in any room. Franny tries to help Olivia by fixing her up with her personal trainer, Mike (Scott Caan). He is creepy, insensitive, and stupid, so Olivia likes him. He is crass and even insists that Olivia give him some of her housekeeping money when he goes along on her maid’s job “to help.”

I didn’t like any of these people and did not understand any of them. The husbands are shadows indulging their self-centered wives. Only David shows some spark but he is summarily dismissed as disagreeable. It looks like things are all downhill for Olivia, but since the role is played by Jennifer Aniston, her crummy, un-focused life will be well served by the time the film abruptly ends.

I did not for one minute believe these women had known each other longer than the read-through of the script. Once again, McDormand’s severe face can spit out caustic dialogue with glee and commitment. This being a Jennifer Aniston vehicle, I must say that I prefer her in this type of “indie” ensemble role. She should pursue serious parts that compliment her wounded, angled face and structured delivery instead of chasing after Julia Roberts-style stardom. It will never happen. The dismal box-office of her past few films have already made that clear.

Screenwriter-director: Nicole Holofcener
Producer: Anthony Bregman
Executive producers: Ted Hope, Anne Carey, Ray Angelic
Director of photography: Terry Stacey
Production designer: Amy Ancona
Music: Craig Rickey
Costume designer: Michael Wilkinson
Editor: Robert Frazen

Olivia: Jennifer Aniston
Christine: Catherine Keener
Jane: Frances McDormand
Franny: Joan Cusack
Aaron: Simon McBurney
David: Jason Isaaacs
Mike: Scott Caan
Matt: Greg Germann
Aaron #2: Ty Burrell
Marty: Bob Stephenson

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