26 July 2005 | vchimpanzee
Fraud, she wrote; Leachman was wonderful
When Peter ran the Sunshine Manor home for the elderly, it was always in the red. After his death, his son Carl changed all that. Woody used to keep the books and has become a resident; his health is not good and he needs an inhaler. An interesting fact about Woody: the house where he was born has the kitchen in Vermont, but the bathroom is in Quebec.
Joseph, who met Peter during World War II and has an accent (he mentions the Czech language, so he must be from Czechoslovakia) paid for Peter's funeral but did not get reimbursed from the estate like he expected. His bridge partners Olive and Rose offer to help, but Woody, the fourth member of the group, can't pay anything because Carl has power of attorney and claims Woody is broke. If Woody tries to regain control of his funds, Carl knows how Woody doctored the home's finances.
Joseph's grandson Max wants to be an actor, but Joseph wishes he would get a real job because Max owes him money. Max's latest role is as Romeo in a production where Juliet leads him around on a leash, wears leather, and uses a whip.
Olive was a legal secretary and is now confined to a wheelchair after an accident, but she is very pleasant, intelligent, determined and independent. She hosts a TV talk show called 'Old and Wise'.
Joseph, Rose and Olive suspect Carl of misusing the funds of the home's residents. Olive proves to be quite a sleuth, and former actress Rose returns to the theater. Max gets the role of his life. The process of finding out just what is going on makes the second half of this movie quite fascinating and humorous. And the ending turns out to be quite complicated with numerous twists.
This could have been the pilot for a series. Cloris Leachman was absolutely wonderful. Once again I found myself regretting the fact that I never watched Angela Lansbury's series 'Murder, She Wrote' on a regular basis when it was still on CBS (and I'm too cheap to see it on cable or otherwise). And I saw the potential for another similar project for Leachman.
Olympia Dukakis was quite good as Rose, especially later in the movie.
All the other leading actors gave good performances. I'm not sure about Matt Craven, but he did go from pleasant to wicked rather quickly. He seemed kind of cartoonish compared to the others, but still entertaining. Frances Bay did a convincing job of portraying a resident of the home who was near death. And there were a couple of other residents of the home, especially the one who yodeled, who added a lot to the movie.
This was great.