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  • After all the hype and comparisons to 'Steel Magnolias', 'Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood', sadly, did not do much box office, which was a shame, as it is a more intimate, realistic vision of women and life-long friendships than the glossier 'Magnolias'.

    Four girl friends in Louisiana create a secret sisterhood in 1937, swearing eternal devotion to each other, and they remain best friends through all the triumphs and tragedies in their lives. When the daughter of one of them (Sandra Bullock), a successful playright, has an interview with Time magazine in which she condemns her mother's impact on her life, the mother (Ellen Burstyn, who is superb!) goes ballistic, cutting the daughter out of her life, totally. In charges the other members of the Sisterhood, kidnapping Bullock, and attempting to make things right!

    The film then jumps back and forth in time, with Ashley Judd playing the younger Burstyn. She has a lot of happy adventures with her Ya-Ya sisters, but also has to deal with racism, a jealous religious zealot of a mother, an overly loving father (David Rasche, breaking free of his usual comic roles), a true love who dies in WWII, and a family with a guy she 'settles' for (played, in present day, by the wonderful James Garner). There is also a dark secret that is the core of the mother/daughter alienation, which must be dealt with in order for the rift between Bullock and Burstyn to heal (No, I will NOT give it away!)

    If you do the math about the years covered, you realize the present-day story SHOULD be taking place in the seventies, at the latest, but this doesn't hurt the overall effectiveness of the picture. As the other present-day sisters, Fionnula Flanagan, Shirley Knight, and (especially) Maggie Smith are WONDERFUL, as is Angus MacFadyen, as Bullock's sympathetic and likable fiance.

    While this is unabashedly a 'chick flick', something I really liked was that they DIDN'T fall back on that old chestnut of somebody dying to serve as a convenient catalyst for change and the healing process. And the dialog is full of wickedly hilarious one-liners about men, alcohol, friendship, and growing old!

    Don't miss this gem!
  • QueenMakeda8423 January 2005
    I liked this movie. I really did. Someone very close to me has a mother very much like this. It's reality folks, not everyone has a sensible loving mother that grasps the role of "motherhood" like a duck to water. Some people remain stuck in a selfish state where they blame everyone/thing else for all their unhappiness and the misdirection of their lives. I'm glad there's a movie that brought that subject to light. One user said the movie is celebrating an alcoholic, but that's untrue. You're watching a woman go further and further into a downward spiral of self-pitying despair and hatred for the events of her life. I also didn't find Vivi's mother to be evil, but she seemed to have been desperately trying to claim her role as a respectable wife. When your husband treats horses better than you, you get a little miffed. He dismissed her as his partner in life for a child she gave him, so the woman aimed her frustrations at her child, instead of her husband. At that time, what could she have really done to the husband? He would've beaten her most likely. I appreciated the fact that Vivi was flawed. Just humanly flawed and admitted it. It sucks that people have parents like this, but Sidda learned to deal with it in her own way. I'm glad it wasn't a typical reaction, like drugs or promiscuity. She just accepted her mother for what she is: flawed and screwed up. Motherhood doesn't make you unselfish and well-versed in letting go of your troubles. That's something you learn over time, and the movie showed that. It might take 40-odd years as it did them, or someone could get it the moment the child is born. What I got from the film is that your parents had dreams and nightmares before you came into the picture, and it takes a lot out of them to come to terms with being responsible for a life that they may or may not be ready for. I also really loved the part where Sidda begins to question her ability to be a good mother and wife. I think that resonated well. I certainly would start to wonder. Parents can screw up their kids easily I tell ya. It's not a responsibility to enter into lightly. I'm sure there were flaws like the accents of Louisiana and technical stuff, but altogether, the movie really reaches many levels.
  • tidepride25 November 2002
    I sat down on a Saturday night at 9:30 to watch this movie. I watched it through twice before I went to bed that night, twice again on Sunday, and now it's Monday night and I've just watched it all the way through again. And I NEVER do that!

    I came to this movie with little or no expectations. I had not read the book (but I will!), although I knew it had been a bestseller for awhile, and was on Oprah's list. I hadn't even paid any attention to who was in it, so was thrilled to see one of my very favorite actresses, Ellen Burstyn.

    I can't really tell you what made this movie speak to me the way it did. I had a very happy childhood, and so couldn't relate on that level at all. The cast was phenomenal, particularly Sandy Bullock as Siddalee.

    All I can say is what someone before me already said - this is one you should judge for yourself, not by what others say.
  • Excellent is an understatement. The movie, which I saw yesterday, was exactly like the book, which I read a few months ago. The actors captured the characters perfectly. The story was moving, powerful and heart-warming. It makes you feel sad, then happy, then sad and then happy again. Maggie Smith was hilarious as Caro and Ellen Burstyn was outstanding as Vivi Dahlin'. Ashley Judd played the part of young Vivi brilliantly. It's probably her finest performance yet. All in all, the movie was wonderfully made and didn't deviate from the book, like so many films do. You HAVE to see this film.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I really hoped to like this movie. Parts were funny, but large sections of it were just awful. I don't see how the daughter was supposed to forgive and forget. Her mother was alcoholic and abusive. Just because prescription drugs pushed her over the edge doesn't really make her a great person otherwise. The scenes of her craziness, losing it with the kids and beating them with a belt just made me sick. The fond memories her daughter has of her seem fun because they were wild and offbeat, and this was sad, as they felt like the edge of craziness/drunkenness too.

    I just can't buy the 'all is forgiven' ending, it seemed way too easy for all that happened. Great if they can put it behind them, but it seemed ridiculous. And too bad those great ya-ya sisters didn't try to be as good of friends to the poor children at any point in their life as they did to the mother. She was hardly the only one suffering.

    I know a lot of people liked this, but it was too much pain for me, the lighter moments really aren't enough to carry this.
  • "I'm not O.K. and you're not O.K. and that's O.K." That's one of the messages of this funny, profound, honest film. The flawed humanity of its characters stands alongside the transcendent miracle of friendship.

    Young Siddalee Walker (played with passion and humor by Sandra Bullock) has made it as a playwright in New York. She has been successful in starting an entirely new life, in the process gaining distance from her alcoholic, mercurial mother back in Louisiana. She has escaped -- or has she? Something makes her send a postcard home by giving an interview to Time Magazine in which she attributes her creativity to the mistreatment she suffered as a child. That serves as a call to action for her mother's lifelong friends (Fionnula Flanagan, Shirley Knight, and the incomparable Maggie Smith, wheeling an oxygen tank). It seems likely at this point that Siddalee's mother Vivi (Ellen Burstyn) will go to her grave without ever speaking to her beloved daughter again. Drastic action is called for, and these three ladies are no frail blossoms.

    They kidnap Siddalee, bring her to a backwoods cottage in Louisiana, and set about the task of helping both mother and daughter to remember that growth comes from acknowledging connections, not severing them. They are aided in this task by an ornate scrapbook that the four of them kept of their youthful adventures as the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.

    The members of this sisterhood do not turn a blind eye to each other's shortcomings. In one of the film's many poignant moments, Siddalee does a cruel impersonation of her mother. As the audience readies itself for Vivi's friends to rush to her defense, one of them (Maggie Smith, of course) says dryly, "She's got her pegged all right." These women, who are about as far from perfect as the cottage in Louisiana is from New York, dare to love each other with eyes wide open.

    Flanagan, Knight, and Smith are delightful as Vivi's three friends, and James Garner contributes a fine performance as the quiet, forbearing husband and father. Most memorable of all is the wounded beauty of Ellen Burstyn as the tempestuous Vivi, who has grown up with two kinds of savagery --- the naked brutality of her father and the merciless piety of her mother. Through the whole film shines the keen emotional intelligence of director Callie Khouri.

    This film is a masterpiece that should not be missed.
  • What a shame!!! This is the worst excuse for an adaptation of a novel I have ever seen. Nothing is explained about Siddalee, Shep, Vivi, the Ya-Yas, the younger siblings, Buggy, etc. No one will understand fully the anguish that the children went through as children or the anguish that Vivi went through in her own childhood. Shortcuts were taken left and right in this film, much to the detriment of the storyline. For instance, Shep is not a living saint, Vivi did not simply beat her children because of dexamyl, Teensy's mother is barely mentioned, Vivi's stay at the boarding school was left out, and where is Aunt Jezie, grownup Lulu, Little Shep, and Baylor? I realize that it was a two hour film, but an adaptation should never have been attempted if it wasn't going to be done faithfully. Everything in this film was explained away too easily. Sidda needed much more than a sob story about her mother's loss and use of dexamyl to explain her behavior. Too easy, too simple, too cheesy. No one could possibly come away with a clear understanding and resolution of the plot.

    My recommendation: SKIP IT and read the fabulous books this was supposedly based on: Little Altars Everywhere and The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya sisterhood.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I really, really wanted to like this film, and before you read the rest of this I will say I can't explain why I don't like it without spoilers, so you've been warned.

    This film is being sold as a feel good, female bonding, mother-daughter, chick flick. While it's all those things, it's also about a mother, Vivi (Ellen Burstyn in the present, Ashley Judd in the past) who drank too much and beat her kids. Yes, she lost her true love in the war. Yes, she had a nervous breakdown. And yes, she really, really feels bad about beating her kids. But when daughter Sidda Lee (Sandra Bullock) goes public about her abusive childhood, Vivi doesn't apologize, she pitches a fit and has another Bloody Mary.

    Don't get me wrong. There were some good times in Sidda Lee's childhood, and her father reminds her that she should remember those instead. Because it is the adult child's responsibility to understand and forgive the abusive parent. Yes, that strange sound you hear is my blood boiling.

    So with the help of the (mostly) drunk Ya-Ya Sisters, kidnapped Sidda Lee comes to understand that her mother was heart broken and sometimes the kids all got sick at the same time and that's why she drank and beat the crap out of them. So Sidda forgives Vivi, even though Vivi still never apologized. Then the band plays and everyone is happy.

    Were there times when I laughed? You bet. There are some great lines. But the movie is slow, jumps around in time far more than necessary, and handles serious issues like alcoholism and child abuse far too lightly. I have no idea why this film was championed by Bette Midler, Bonnie Bruckheimer, Callie Khouri and Sandra Bullock. Surely they could have found a better women's story to film.
  • A chick flick for chicks of all ages, "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" tells of four Louisiana ladies who establish their secret Ya-Ya sisterhood, bound by blood and oath and honor, at a young age and who remain friends over the years providing each other with friendship and support. The film's thin storyline is about one such "sister" (Burstyn/Judd) who has issues with her adult daughter (Bullock) and her sister Ya-Ya's who come to her rescue much to her dismay. What ensues is a warmly funny kind of jambalaya which makes up for its gaping plotholes with personality, charm, and rambunciousness as it stumbles through it story finally arriving gasping and wheezing at its feel good conclusion. Gagging material for grinches, most will find the "Ya-Yas" are just too damned much fun not to like on some level. (B)
  • Despite its silly title, which just refers to a childhood game, this is a profoundly serious movie about reconciliation.

    It spans three generations of women, tormented by religion and mental breakdown. It explores three generations of mother-daughter relationships.

    This would be a great movie for any child of an abusive mother.

    Siddalee, the Sandra Bullock character, gradually comes to understand her grandmother and mother and is thus gradually able to forgive them.

    It is a frustrating movie. I found myself demanding the plot bound along with series of Hollywood contrivances, but it meanders and backtracks, tantalising then not delivering, much like real life.

    The unbearably aching mood of reconciliation and nostalgia gradually develops, partly due to the long suffering, ever-loving Shep Walker (James Garner in a low-profile role quite unlike the ones he normally plays), and Connor (Angus Macfadyen), Siddalee's ever-patient Irish boyfriend.

    Maggie Smith is in it, reason enough to watch it.

    The movie recreates the south in lush Technicolor over three generations, a visual feast.

    If you are embarrassed to cry in public, make sure to watch this alone.
  • va8523 January 2005
    Warning: Spoilers
    it's interesting to me that some of the negative reviews people have written for this movie include comments such as "i was waiting for some kind of revelation...but it never came..." From someone who lives in a family affected by mental illness I can only say that there is no "revelation." Getting through it is a process and each step includes a struggle, there are good moments and there are bad...but unlike Hollywood films it can't be wrapped up neatly or fixed after some melodramatic scene. and it's hard to talk about. i think this film captured all these aspects quite accurately. it was different from things we see normally and kudos to Ashley Judd for pulling it off. in short, i enjoyed this film...a lot. and i know many guys who did as well, thereby slightly debunking the "chick flick" label.
  • Edu-1610 September 2003
    Warning: Spoilers
    SPOILERS Poorly handled flashbacks, with dubious casting of different aged versions of same character. Comedy? Huh?! Nothing funny about child abuse - even if there is some sympathy for the mother. Nothing very funny about madness either - or spoilt southern women, or a husband who has remained with his wife despite having to sleep in a separate room for the last 30 years. A positive riot.

    As others have noted, you keep expecting some kind of revelation at the end. But it never materialises, and you are left feeling somewhat short changed. (For a similar but much worse experience see 'The Ninth Gate'). I thought at the least that the boy lost in the war would turn up at some point to explain the mother's mental episode.

    There is no explanation for the mumbojumbo behind the Ya-Ya of the title, and certainly no reasonable explanation why four child hood friends should after 50 years remain livng in close enough proximity to be able to go driving every where together. And are we also expected to believe that a boyfriend of some 7 years has yet to meet the parents? Yeah, right.

    Maggie Smith can act - but sadly a Southern accent is for her 'a talent too far'. The Oxygen mask I can only assume was a device designed to explain or hide her lapses into English.

    In general - a disappointment.
  • rosscinema24 July 2003
    This film goes into the category of "Chick-Flick" but there are some "Chick-Flicks" that are very well made. Unfortunately, this is not one of those. Story starts out with 4 girls in the woods about 50 years ago who invent a club just for them called..Oh, you know. Well, forward ahead to modern day and we see Sidda Walker (Sandra Bullock) who is a successful playwright and she gives an interview to Time magazine and says her childhood was difficult. The article comes out and Sidda's mother Vivi (Ellen Burstyn) reads it and is furious and writes her out of her will and tears up her photo's and acts very melodramatic. The rest of the "Ya-Ya's" are Teensy (Fionnula Flanagan), Necie (Shirley Knight) and Caro (Maggie Smith) and they travel to where Sidda lives and spike her drink and somehow get her back to Louisiana but don't tell Vivi that they have her. Well, she finds out from Sidda's fiance' Conner (Angus Macfadyen) that they have her but she is not allowed to see her. While at their place Sidda looks at their old scrapbook and then the film uses flashbacks to view several events including why Vivi was a difficult mother and her bout with depression and being hooked on pills. This film is the directorial debut of writer Callie Khouri who wrote the screenplay for "Thelma and Louise" and she displays tremendous patience in her storytelling and the film goes on way to long. The characters all play Southern Belles and there are times during the film that it is difficult to understand exactly what they are saying. Smith is an English actress and her Southern accent is just not believable. As I watched this film I kept waiting for the big scene that is suppose to tell us about Vivi but it never really comes because we already know in advance about her troubles and yet the film is still a solid two hours long. James Garner plays Shep and the actor that plays him as a young man appears to be a good foot taller then he is. I didn't hate this film because with a great cast like this it would be impossible. The most effective scenes in the film come from Ashley Judd who is suppose to be a young Vivi and although I'm not convinced of how good of an actress she is, she is good in this film. This film could have benefited from more editing and more realistic dialogue. Great cast tries hard but except from a few scattered moments this is a big disappointment. "Ya-Ya"!
  • This film is really a celebration of female relationships between; mothers and daughters, between girl friends and between wife and husband. There are numerous flash backs, but the film flows at a good pace that it is not a distraction at all.

    The storyline is very light hearted to begin with, but gets darker. Ashley Judd does a great performance as an Alcohol addicted mother and Ellen Burstyn is also good as the older character, played by Ashley Judd. The humour is funny enough and does not go overboard. See this film with your girl friends, and make sure you bring a box of Kleenex with you. A two thumbs up.
  • This movie is in the same vein as Khouris' last, Grace under pressure, where she, literally, said: Stand by your man. Even if he porks your best friend.

    Here, she says: forgive Mama everything, her alcoholism, her mistreating of her own family, her lovelessness during Siddalee's childhood. Because of that "dark secret" (pathetic, really), that only lasted a few months.

    But we saw it coming, already at the end of Thelma & Louise, didn't we? Girls/women should either put up, shut up - or die!

    Disgusting movie.
  • My wife loves this film. This is a woman whose favorite films include any woman whose last name is Hepburn. Yes, she is a romanticist from the past — understandable since she has a Ph.D. in medieval history.

    Because she's played the film enough times, I've had the opportunity to watch it both in its entirety and in bits and pieces. And there's really a lot to it that most viewers are missing.

    Why?

    I think it's because it grows on you. The parts are all incredibly well played — certainly expected of mature actors like Maggie Smith, Fionnula Flanagan and Ellen Burstyn. But here even Sandra Bullock is enticing not just in her looks but in her expression of her character.

    Some films you like right out of the gate. We all know which ones they are. Others have to grow on you. And unfortunately too many films are never given a second chance. YA-YA SISTERHOOD is one.

    Watching it a second or third time is like sitting around a campfire and telling the same story over for the umpteenth time. We've all heard it before, but we still want to hear it again.

    For those who have dissed this film, give it another chance. Perhaps when you're older. Perhaps when you're in a romantic mood. Perhaps when you're tired of stupid comedies, disgusting horror films and over-the-top action thrillers. Then I'm sure you'll see it in a different light and think, "Well maybe YA-YA SISTERHOOD is indeed a little hidden gem."
  • Warning: Spoilers
    1) a grab-ya-by-the-heart premise (see "The Way We Were")

    2) a script free of insulting stereotypes (see "Out of Africa")

    and, most importantly...

    3) characters you sympathize with, even when you want to throttle them (see "Terms of Endearment")

    Instead, what we get is a movie about a vain, self-absorbed windbag and her Kentucky-fried, bourbon-drenched pals whose loyalty to the aforementioned, inexplicably, know no bounds. Vivi and her fellow Ya-Yas didn't earn my laughs, empathy or admiration (essential for a Chick Flick). I just wanted to bitch-slap the whole lot of 'em!

    The lip service it pays to race relations and its failure to explore Vivi's relationships with her other children (and the Ya-Yas' relationships with their spouses/children) was galling enough. But what really sent me over the edge was the big "secret" that was supposed to explain Vivi to Sidalee. Not to give it away, but it doesn't explain A THING -- at least, not to those of us who were stupid enough not to check our brains at the door. Wouldn't have Sidalee known "that" already? Shep's excuse - that Vivi made him promise not to tell - not only does not fly, it's sloppy, insult-our-intelligence writing.

    There was a movie about parent/child relationships screaming to get out here. But like "Ice Age," it wimps out when it's time to put up or shut up. And THIS from the writer of "Thelma & Louise." How sad.
  • This film is not in the same league as Callie Khouri's "Thelma and Louise", "Fried Green Tomatoes" or "Steel Magnolias". It is really slow, especially after the first hour, and even with some great actresses, I found myself looking at my watch, just waiting or it to come to a very predictable climax. And then it had an anti-climax, and then another anti-climax. Even though i did not read the book, it had to be far better than this film. Sorry, i wanted to like it, but just couldn't. It will probably make some money with marketing targeted to devotees of the book, but they too might be disappointed.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood is a comedy drama or dramedy movie that stars Sandra Bullock and Ashley Judd together with Ellen Burstyn,Fionnula Flanagan,James Garner,Maggie Smith and Shirley Knight.Screenwriter Callie Khouri makes her directorial debut with this adaptation of a pair of popular novels by author Rebecca Wells namely:the novel with the same title and its prequel collection of short stories entitled,Little Altars Everywhere.

    Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood starts when Sidda Lee Walker,a New York playwright,opens a can of emotional worms with her estranged, alcoholic mother, Vivi.She discusses her painful childhood and particularly Vivi's less-than-enviable mothering skills in a Time magazine article. The eccentric Louisiana drama queen Vivi has already been barred from her daughter's wedding to her fiancé, Connor so the article sends her into a rage. Coming to the rescue of the relationship are Necie,Caro, and Teensy, a trio of bickering women, who, along with Vivi, formed a secret society of feminist empowerment and friendship 60 years earlier that they dubbed the "Ya-Ya Sisterhood." The Ya-Yas kidnap Sidda and bring her home to Louisiana, where they reveal to Sidda via a carefully maintained scrapbook her mother's painful past,which makes her get to know more about her mother which make an effect to the rapprochement between mother and daughter.

    Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood explores many tragedies in life such as alcoholism,parental conflict,intrusion to another person's life or privacy,and child abuse but it was handled in comical manner.I don't think that these serious and tragic issues does not need to be addressed in laughable manner.Instead of handling it through great character development and brilliant plot especially in female relationship,the film becomes an exercise of comedy with a few dramatic scenes thrown in.The cast are too talented but put into waste in it as the characters don't get our sympathy.Rather,we get annoyed with the silly actions they take in life.In summary,the film was a bad combination of drama and comedy.
  • I gave this movie 3 stars because I appreciate the portrayal of sassy old ladies who drink and curse and smoke; if not for that I would have given it a 1 or 2.

    I read the book last summer while I was in Louisiana, adored it, and read the two others in the series. I know that movies generally don't do justice to the books they're based on. I heard unenthusiastic reviews. I still rented this movie with the expectation--even determination--to enjoy it. Then I discovered Sandra Bullock was in it. Puke. Her southern accent is a travesty. I want to rant on a bit about how disgusting it is that her performance was allowed to taint the Ya-ya name but it's probably not her fault. Her persona is just completely wrong for this story. Whoever cast her should be taken behind the barn and shot. Ditto for the director.

    Like I said, I really, really wanted to like this movie in spite of potential supposed mediocrities... But it really, undeniably sucked.

    I BEG anyone who has seen or is considering seeing this movie to just go out and read the book instead. If you judge the thing based on the cinematic adaptation it will appear to be pure drivel, and you will have missed quite a bit of important and beautiful stuff from the writing.
  • I read the book and found that the flashbacks were excellent, but the chapters supposedly taking place in the present, concerning 40-year-old Siddalee and her boyfriend Connor, were very boring. Unfortunately, the movie spent way too much time on these scenes. They completely eliminated one of the best segments, where Vivi is sent to an ultra-harsh catholic boarding school as a teen. That was a bad omission, since it was a very intense and very interesting part of the book. My husband, who loved the book so much he saved the last 50 pages for a time when nobody would be around, fell asleep 15 minutes before the movie was over.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Spoiler ahead. I got lost many times in this movie and I have to say that perhaps the book was difficult to adapt to film. It seemed to lack any real depth in telling a believable story, it was too fragmented. Also the issues of abuse and the reasons behind the abuse were clouded in mystery and then when they finally are shown I feel they are not treated with the seriousness that they deserve. Also what is such a good cast doing in this movie. It doesn't compare with Fried Green Tomatoes which is one of my favourite movies. Also Angus Macfadyen's Irish accent is just the worst Irish accent since Tom Cruise in Far and Away which was dreadful. Not one of Sandra Bullocks best movies either. All in all rather disappointing
  • This is a film with a troubled woman who resolves her problem by listening to other women talk about their past (via flashbacks). Very similar to "Fried Green Tomatoes" and "How to Make an American Quilt" If you liked those movies then you'll probably like this one. It was a decent movie, but not at all original in concept.
  • A quite bland little chick flick that should appeal to women aged 25 - 50. It's your typical Sandra Bullock movie, complete with love lorned main character, attractive male who would do anything for her, and conflicting elders. Add on corny dialog, cliched characters, over acting, thick accents, and an overdone soundtrack and you have what this movie basically is. A vanilla chick flick. Stick with the book.
  • After first reading The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood I was sure this was going to be a terrific movie. Sad to say I was totally WRONG! I got about fifteen minutes into the flick then turned it off and read the book again. The casting was great but this adaptation of a very moving book was way off.
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