A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
Alot of saints are mentioned in "The Amati Girls," including Christopher, Lucy, Cecilia, Therese (the Little Flower) and the BVM herself, but the movie should be praying to St. Jude, patron saint of lost causes. Maybe he could perform a miracle and turn this into a cable offering, so no one has to buy a ticket to see it.
The movie's a tour of timeworn cliches about family life, performed with desperation by a talented cast. Alone among them, Mercedes Ruehl somehow salvages her dignity while others all about her are losing theirs. She even manages to avoid appearing in the shameless last shot, where the ladies dance around the kitchen singing Doo-wah-diddy, diddy-dum, diddy-dum .
The movie is about a large Italian-American family in Philadelphia. Too large, considering that every character has a crisis, and the story races from one to another like the guy on TV who kept all the plates spinning on top of the poles. This family not only has a matriarch (Cloris Leachman) but her superfluous sister (Lee Grant) and their even more superfluous sister (Edith Field). There are also four grown daughters, two husbands, two hopeful fiancees, at least three kids, and probably some dogs, although we never see them because they are probably hiding under the table to avoid being stepped on.
The adult sisters are Grace (Ruehl), who is married to macho-man Paul Sorvino ("No Padrone male will ever step foot on a ballet stage, except as a teamster"); Denise (Dinah Manoff), who is engaged to Lawrence (Mark Harmon) but dreams of show biz (she sings "Kiss of Fire" to demonstrate her own need for St. Jude); Christine (Sean Young), whose husband Paul (Jamey Sheridan), is a workaholic, and poor Dolores (Lily Knight), who is retarded. Denise and Christine think Grace is ruining her life with guilt because when she was a little girl she ran away and her mother chased her and fell, which of course caused Dolores to be retarded.