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Then She Found Me

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Colin Firth in "Then She Found Me."

Colin Firth in “Then She Found Me.”


THEN SHE FOUND ME — ** — Helen Hunt, Bette Milder, Colin Firth; rated R (profanity, sex, vulgarity, brief partial nudity)

Helen Hunt has never had the warmest personality. But her sharp tongue served her well in the hit films "Twister" and "As Good as It Gets," as well as the long-running television series "Mad About You."

But since then she's become much more aloof and cold and almost completely unlikable. So it's a little disconcerting to see her trying so hard to "warm up" in "Then She Found Me," a comedy-drama that marks her feature filmmaking debut.

The movie is an uneasy mix of "Baby Mama," "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and a few of Woody Allen's domestic comedies, and is even messier than that makes it sound. For one thing, the film takes itself deadly seriously in seemingly lighthearted moments and then doesn't take itself nearly seriously enough when it probably should.

Hunt also co-wrote this adaptation of the Elinor Lipman novel and stars as April Epner, an on-the-cusp-of-40 schoolteacher who's recently gotten married to her best friend, fellow teacher Ben (Matthew Broderick).

She hopes their union will lead to the child she desperately wants. But just months into their marriage, Ben decides that he wants out. And what's worse, around that time her long-ailing, adoptive mother dies.

As fate would have it, that's when April's biological mother turns up. She's Bernice Graves (Bette Milder), a successful television talk show host who wants to get to know the daughter she gave up for adoption.

April's not sure how she feels about that development, but her personal life isn't going particularly well, either. While she's now dating Frank (Colin Firth), the parent of a student, Ben is calling April to say he misses her.

To be fair, there are a few interesting twists and character developments. This tale wraps up in a way that is refreshingly honest and realistic, especially when compared to the typical Hollywood movie endings.

Hunt looks pained every time she tries to smile, though, and most of these people are so unpleasant that it's hard to feel anything for them but contempt.

"Then She Found Me" is rated R for strong sexual language (profanity, crude slang and other suggestive talk), simulated sex and other sexual contact, and brief partial female nudity. Running time: 100 minutes.

E-mail: jeff@desnews.com