The silliness up front — ditched mother of four girls, the courtship of an awkward neighbor — yields poignant surprises thanks to Joan Allen’s resilience and Kevin Costner’s self-effacing touch (he can be good at this).
Allen is Midwest housewife Terry Anne Wolfmeyer, suddenly left in charge of three charismatic teens (the fourth is in college) after her husband ostensibly elopes with a secretary. Washed up baseball player and Detroit talk-radio host Denny Davies sweetly slips into her life. Unfortunately, actor-director Mike Binder (he’s Shep in the movie) sets up Terry’s raging-bull personality so quickly and thoroughly that he strips down the movie’s growth potential. Efforts to make the various mother-daughter subplots sincere and relevant lapses too often into stereotype. What matters here (what should have mattered, that is) is Allen and Costner, odd-couple folk believably trying to reckon with change.
At one point, Denny tells Terry that dealing with grief inevitably means, “you heal funny. You walk more or less with a limp.” It’s the limp that gives this film its considerable promise, and the failure to get to its core that delimits it.