The Great Wall
Unlike any American blockbuster you've seen, a conservative movie with action set pieces that are actually inventive and thrilling enough to be worthwhile.
"The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" has a title suggesting that the movie will be cute and about colorful, irrepressible, eccentric originals. Heavens deliver us. The Ya-Ya Sisterhood is rubber-stamped from the same mold that has produced an inexhaustible supply of fictional Southern belles who drink too much, talk too much, think about themselves too much, try too hard to be the most unforgettable character you've ever met, and are, in general, insufferable. There must be a reason these stories are never set in Minnesota. Maybe it's because if you have to deal with the winter, it makes you too realistic to become such a silly goose.
There is not a character in the movie with a shred of plausibility, not an event that is believable, not a confrontation that is not staged, not a moment that is not false. For their sins, the sisterhood should be forced to spend the rest of their lives locked in a Winnebago camper. The only character in the movie who is bearable is the heroine as a young woman, played by Ashley Judd, who suggests that there was a time before the story's main events when this creature was palatable.
The heroine is Vivi, played by Ellen Burstyn in her 60s, Judd in her 30s and, as a child, by a moppet whose name I knoweth not. Yes, this is one of those movies that whisks around in time, as childhood vows echo down through the years before we whiplash back to the revelations of ancient secrets. If life were as simple as this movie, we would all have time to get in shape and learn Chinese.
As the film opens, four little girls gather around a campfire in the woods and create the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, exchanging drops of their blood, no doubt while sheriff's deputies and hounds are searching for them. Flash forward to the present. Vivi's daughter Sidda (Sandra Bullock) is a famous New York playwright, who tells an interviewer from Time magazine that she had a difficult childhood, mostly because of her mother. Whisk down to Louisiana, where Vivi reads the article and writes the daughter forever out of her life--less of a banishment than you might think, since they have not seen each other for seven years and Vivi doesn't even know of the existence of Sidda's Scottish fiance, Connor (Angus MacFadyen).