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Movie Review

Hope Floats

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements

Reviewed by: W.J. Kimble

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
110 min.
Year of Release:

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Harry Connick Jr., Gena Rowlands, Mae Whitman, Cameron Finley, Michael Pare / Director: Forest Whitaker / Released by: 20th Century Fox

“Take a lesson from the ants, you lazy fellow. Learn from their ways and be wise!” Prov 6:6 (TLB).

A funny thing happened when my brother blew up the ant nest,” says Birdie Pruitt (Sandra Bullock) to her daughter, Bernice (Mae Whitman, “One Fine Day”), “their home was destroyed, but they just went back and starting rebuilding. No one told them to, they just did it.” That’s what families do. They stick together and rebuild. While Birdie never quoted the scripture above, the lesson of the ant brought her to the realization that a happy home is where the family strives to retain its virtues and does whatever it takes to survive.

Please note: one viewer says “…it isn’t Birde that tells the story of the ants to Bernice. It is the grandmother. The grandma is the one at the point in the story who is trying to hold the family together.”

Birdie had been married to Bill Pruitt (Michael Pare, “Point of Impact”) for years, when suddenly she finds herself on the “Toni Post Show” (a TV talk-show with Kathy Najimy, “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit,” as the host). Believing that she is to receive a makeover, Birdie is horrified when her best friend (Rosanna Arquette) reveals that she is having an affair with Bill. Devastated, Birdie heads back to Smithville, Texas, her home town; where her eccentric mother, a taxidermist by the name of Ramona Calvert (Gena Rowlands, Paulie), awaits to console her and reacquaint her with an old high-school sweetheart, Justin Matisse (Harry Connick Jr.). Slowly, Birdie finds the strength to go on, to rebuild her family and renew her relationship with her mother and father; thereby proving that when everything else has sunk, Hope Floats.

Divorce, which is always hard on children, often leaves them confused, disorganized, angry and bitter. In the case of Bernice, who shifts the blame from her father’s infidelity to her mother’s inability to keep Bill happy, we find some of the movie’s more intense and emotionally, heart-wrenching scenes. “It’s all your fault and you know it!” shouts Bernice, to her mother. “He’s coming back [you’ll see], he loves me!” It’s not long before we find her growing more belligerent, spiteful and rebellious. In another scene, Bernice is left crying out at the top of her lungs, “Daddy, don’t leave me, I love you,” as her father drives away. This scene was so intense that you could hear a pin drop; everyone was stunned. The silence was broken when the women in the audience began to cry.

Divorce also leaves emotional scars for those whose marriages have ended. “Hope Floats” attempts to deal with all these issues and to reassure us that no matter what happens we can go on. Sadly, they never talk about Jesus' ability to help us through these hardships.

While it is a good movie to see, it contains two vulgar jokes and mild profanity (hence the PG-13 rating). There is no nudity; but there is a scene in which Birdie and Justin are implied to have had intimate relations with each other.

Under what conditions may Christians divorce and remarry? Answer

What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer

Viewer Comments
I really enjoyed this movie. The only real problem I had with it was that at the end Birde and Justin were walking together and they said they had no plans to get married but it seemed to imply that they would be living together as a family.
—Molly Maye
…The movie really emphases how divorce can tear a family apart. Sandra Bullock (Birdie), doesn’t give up on her husband, but loses the battle to get him when he asks for a divorce.
—Hannah Wachdorf, age 14
Hope Floats was a great movie… Gave you laughs and it made you cry… My parents are going through a divorce so I could relate to the storyline… I think it was great to see… Some language but it was good!
I agree with Claudia… every married man with children should be forced by the court system to see the scene where Bernice is screaming as her father leaves… the rest of it, no thanks. Usual Hollywood fare… OK to divorce and remarry… don’t try to work out the problems in the marriage, just move on down the line and find someone new.
—Sid Owens
When I saw this movie, I was really touched and cried through most of the second half of it. I think this is the best movie I have seen in a long time. It dealt with real emotions, events that, in today’s society, are very possible and happening everywhere. It demonstrated the effect of infidelity and divorce on the children. As the daughter of divorced parents, I could really relate to some of the happenings of this movie. I just hope there were some fathers sitting in the audience who had also left God’s will and abandoned their families. I hope they saw the effects on that little girl, and I hope they boo-hooed!
—W. Child
My wife and I saw this movie, and we were both disgusted in the extreme. Sandra Bullock’s character’s only redeeming qualities were that she found a job after her life fell apart and she loved her daughter unfailingly. She was a bad wife, a bad mother, a bad daughter, a bad girlfriend (she had sex—while still married—with a guy after only a couple dates and then left him before morning, how very ethical.) I found myself wondering how people live without God. Harry Connick Jr.’s character was similarly unethical, coming onto this woman whose life had just been shattered. He pushed her physically until she finally slept with him. I was surprised that he didn’t move on. The only truly developed character was the poor abandoned nephew who was so desperately trying to find himself. My heart went out to him, and I found myself wondering where his Christian friends were and why weren’t they inviting him to church. Mae Whitman should get an Oscar for her acting. I’m not sure why this movie was made, but if it convinces someone to notget a divorce, maybe I can revise this review.
—Douglas Overmyer
I went to see this movie alone and regretted not taking my seven year old daughter with me… we love having a good cry together and after having gone through divorce ourselves there was nothing in this movie I would have found inappropriate or too mature for her to handle. There was more substance to the movie than I had expected.
—Cheryl Hein, age 39
I believe that the best scene in the movie is where Bernice is screaming out to her father as he is driving away. It is rare that a secular movie accurately portrays the devasting effects of sin. This movie should be should be shown to every couple with children who are contemplating divorce.
—Claudia, age 35
My adult daughter and I went to see Hope Floats together. It was an excellent choice as a mother-daughter outing. Afterwards we talked about many aspects of the movie, including sometimes complicated mother-daughter relationships. We thought the sweetest scene in the movie was Birdie dancing with her father in the nursing home. I agree with the reviewer that it’s a shame the characters in the movie don’t realize that Jesus could be there to help them through the storms of life. Christian viewers could use it as a springboard to witnessing to their friends, however. It is a movie that lends itself to discussion afterwards.
—S. Nelson
…With all the Jerry Springer type shows on tv, this type of confession seems to be a popular thing. However, I think any man (or woman) who would embarrass their spouse in such a way should be shot! But I guess I’m just old fashioned… Bernice, (Bertieesdaughter) stole the show with her portrayal of a betrayed little girl. She wants her dad to come back… when she sees him again, [she] has to deal with the harsh reality of her father’s decision to leave and marry his girlfriend

…I enjoyed the movie and couldn’t understand the PG-13 rating. It really is a PG movie and probably could be seen by young adults. Children probably would be bored stiff. There is no mention of Christ in the movie, and one short church scene during a funeral.
—Stephanie Hanson, age 40