Love and life, death and the law—all mix and match in this freewheeling southern comedy from Edelson (Bad Housekeeping, 1995, etc.), as a family warped by tragedy careens toward a catastrophe in the unlikely form of a Thanksgiving dinner. Years earlier, Angie and Joe DiPietro suffered a grievous loss when their five-year-old son died of Reye's syndrome. Now Angie is a crisis-line- and hospice-volunteer and a supplier of marijuana to cancer patients, as well as the mother of teenaged Tess and young Nick, who's slightly older than her other boy was when he died. Angie is also a woman of affairs—her latest Romeo is Mason, her pot grower. Between Angie and Joe is a wall of grief grown thick with the years. Joe has channeled his misery into his legal work, but knowledge of Angie's latest infidelity drives him to explore that option too, with a curvy Puerto Rican psychologist whose professional services he's used in court. Meanwhile, Tess, in the full flower of adolescent rebellion, runs away—though not far. From her new vantage point, she witnesses both her parents stepping out, and she lashes out by ratting on her own wanna be boyfriend, who's nabbed carrying enough LSD to put him away for a while. Then Mutt, the family dog, dies. Somehow out of this maelstrom emerges a family Thanksgiving complete with all the trimmings: both lovers, Angie's paranoid mother, Tess and her now-bailed-out boyfriend, and even Mutt, sealed in a cooler while awaiting burial in the backyard. For a moment it looks as if there's magic in the air. Then the police arrive. . . . Riotously fresh and funny scenes, written with liberal doses of irony and reality. The finale, though, steps too far over the credibility line, ringing a sour note in what is otherwise a wonderful chorus of wacky southern voices.
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