Director: Martha Coolidge
Mercedes Ruehl captures audiences’s hearts as the slow-witted but sweetly delicate Tennessee Williams-esque Aunt Bella in Martha Coolidge’s touchingly nostalgic adaptation of Neil Simon’s Tony and Pultizer Prize winning play. Set in the early 1940’s, two young boys are left in the care of both Bella and their icy, German grandmother whose grown children, including small-time hood Richard Dreyfuss, remain in constant terror of her commanding presence. Moving, emotional, funny and downright huggable—this film is hard to shake and Ruehl is at the top of her game, driving you to laughter and tears by making us fall just as in love with Bella as the rest of the family—we want to protect her from harm, get her out from that "glass menagerie" of sorts but we’re worried all the same. Yes, Dreyfuss is essentially playing a caricature that bogs the film down in places and Simon does sometimes have a penchant for overly sentimentalizing things by making characters a little too clever for their own good, but overall his work here is among his best—mature, memorable and for two hours, you’re glad to feel like part of their uniquely dysfunctional family.