Made-Up

This freshly imagined satire about the way we as a culture obsess about looks — hello, Extreme Makeover and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy — emerges as the fun surprise of the new movie year. Brooke Adams is deliciously comic and touching as Elizabeth, a former actress who gave up her career to be a wife and mother in Boston. Now her husband (Gary Sinise) has left her for a young babe, played by Light Eternity (crazy name, gifted performer). Elizabeth's teen daughter (Eva Amurri, real-life daughter of Susan Sarandon, and a real talent) is a wanna-be beautician who thinks Dad would have stayed if Mom had dyed her hair and kept in shape. With the help of a wig, cosmetics and a makeshift face-lift (a rubber band snapped under the chin and hidden by the makeup), Elizabeth is transformed. That is, until the rubber band snaps on a date with Max (Tony Shalhoub), a restaurant owner. It's a humiliation made worse because Elizabeth's sister Kate (tart-tongued Lynne Adams, Brooke's actual sis) is filming the makeover for a documentary with the help of an amateur crew, wittily acted by Lance Krall, Jim Issa and Kalen Conover.

OK, the plot has more contrivances holding it together than Elizabeth. But it's hard to resist this family affair. Lynne wrote the screenplay, based on the one-woman stage show she had crafted as a starring vehicle for herself. Brooke, married to Shalhoub (an Emmy winner for TV's Monk), persuaded her husband not just to act in the film but to make his debut as a feature director. In that department, Shalhoub demonstrates the same light, nuanced touch he shows as an actor. And his flair for laughs with a sting (Elizabeth's date scene with Max is a howl) keeps Made-Up pointed and hilarious.

From The Archives Issue 271: August 10, 1978