Reviewed by: W.J. Kimble
“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.