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.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
This Job Will Change Your Life
This Job Will Change Your Life
Former staff reflect on the zigs and zags of life post-Chronicle

Sept. 3, 2021

Story of America's itinerant population wanders too much

Feb. 19, 2021

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle