Ray (Julie and Romeo, 2000) fashions another mild-tempered, predictable, yet nonetheless amusing romantic comedy about a sexagenarian narrator and her love-vexed grown kids.
Carolina McSwain, who runs a dance school in Raleigh, North Carolina, has been happily married to public defender Tom for 42 years and has four children. When daughter Kay, a 30-year-old lawyer, announces that she is marrying the richest eligible guy in town, Trey Bennett, Carolina is suspicious, especially when Kay seems still unable to detach herself from her rumpled former boyfriend Jack. On the heels of Kay’s engagement comes the news that Carolina’s sister Taffy has been deserted by her philandering husband, and, together with her man-biting terrier, Taffy moves in with Carolina for comfort. By degrees, Ray, a confident writer who pulls no surprises, introduces some plot complications, but not many: Woodrow, the black contractor who is working on the foundations of Carolina’s house, begins to take an interest in Taffy, now teaching dance courses at her sister’s school; Carolina’s law student son George suddenly falls head over heels with Woodrow’s daughter Erica; while Taffy’s Hollywood agent daughter Holden breezes home only to sweep Jack madly off his feet. Throughout, Carolina’s pragmatic voice is calm and clarion, reminding these love-dazzled relatives who constantly ask her advice that she and her husband eloped in their early 20s, having “stumbled into marriage, into parenthood, into life.” Does Kay love Jack or Trey? The answer is gently incorporated into the larger concerns of Carolina and Taffy’s tender and sisterly reacquaintance (how did Taffy learn to dance so well after all these years, and how did Carolina never know?). Ray so painstakingly constructs her story and fleshes out her honorable characters that the reader begins to worry deeply whether the society wedding will clean out Tom and Carolina—and whether the rascal Stamp will stop biting men.
A by-the-numbers family drama that won’t fail to please softy readers.