SXSW Film Reviews

Manna From Heaven

D: Gabrielle C Burton, Maria Burton; with Ursula Burton, Seymour Cassel, Shelley Duvall, Jill Eikenberry, Frank Gorshin, Shirley Jones, Chloris Leachman, Wendie Malick, Louise Fletcher.

How Five Sisters Productions, a real-life sister act, got so many celebrity actors to appear in this half-baked comedy is a mystery more intriguing than the actual narrative brought to the screen by the five Burton sisters. Aiming for madcap farce, Manna From Heaven finds itself weighed down by more earthbound humor that provokes occasional smiles but more often makes us aware of the way each gag tends to overstay its welcome. The story concerns the effect that the discovery of $30,000 on the front lawn has on one Chicago Catholic extended family. Ironically, not much changes. What ultimately alters their lives is when one of their members calls them together years later in an effort to return the money. An oversupply of characters (each of whom is indeed a "character") have to fight their way past their one-dimensional traits and wobbly introductions into the story. To their credit, this acting ensemble is thoroughly game even when driving their one-note jokes into the ground. Decent production values help cover over the film's stale script, but Manna From Heaven is nevertheless in need of divine intervention.

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