Siddons' latest, her 11th (after Downtown, 1994), is surprisingly low on the melodrama scale: only a handful of syrupy passages and unconvincing scenes mar this highly entertaining, unabashedly lightweight southern saga. Merritt Fowler's dutiful suburban Georgia housewife/mother routine is due for a shake-up. Husband Porn (whose grin splits his beard ""like a knife blade through dark plush"") is a doctor more concerned with the plight of the downtrodden than with the inner workings of his own household; he's oblivious to both his own mother's terrifying descent into Alzheimer's and his anorectic daughter Glynn's adolescent misery--until Glynn, spurred on by paternal neglect and her grandmother's destructive behavior, runs away to aunt Laura's California condo. Laura is Merritt's younger sister, a grade-B actress/babe-about-town who left home for Hollywood as a teenager and never came back--hardly a role model for the delicate Glynn. Under the guise of fetching Glynn home, Merritt heads west herself, but with the subconscious goal of getting some much-needed distance from her thoughtless husband and demanding mother-in-law. In California, Hollywood high jinks ensue--Laura is enmeshed in a no-win relationship with Caleb, a hot director who promises more than he delivers; and Glynn, a younger version of her still beautiful aunt, gets offered a major role in Caleb's new movie. To escape it all, the three women flee upstate to Caleb's retreat among the redwoods, where Merritt relearns passion from caretaker T.C. Bridgewater--an affair that will later give her the courage to ask for what she needs at home with Porn. It takes a high-ranker on the Richter scale, though, to set everyone straight, and a stronger Merritt, matured Glynn, and wiser Laura head back south to absorb the aftershocks together--as a family. An impressive leap forward for Siddons--all of the requisite thrills, much less gratuitous yanking on the heartstrings.