Lovin' Molly (2005) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Directed by Sydney Lumet (five Oscar nominations and a lifetime achievement award) from a novel by Larry McMurtry (one win in two Oscar nominations, plus an Emmy nomination and a Pulitzer Prize), Lovin Molly' should have been a slam dunk for a great movie. Lumet was more or less in the prime of his career, one year removed from Dog Day Afternoon. McMurtry was still basking in the glow of the encomiums heaped upon The Last Picture Show.

It wasn't a great movie, although it has some very nice moments. According to IMDb, screenwriter Steven Friedman never wrote another script before or after this one, and McMurtry's sprawling story, spread out over 40 years in the lives of two men who loved the same woman and each other, proved to be difficult for the inexperienced screenwriter to adapt into an economical screenplay. McMurtry's "Leaving Cheyenne" had the advantage of an unlimited expanse of printed pages to develop sub-plots and subtext in a leisurely, thoughtful way, as well as to create some beautiful homespun prose which often moseyed into the territory of simple country poetry. The screenwriter just didn't seem to have the heart to cut anything out, so the individual scenes seem rushed and excessively compacted, and the transitions between scenes seem to be dominated by abrupt jumps forward in time. Unfortunately, chronicling the minutiae of events over four decades didn't leave enough time for the proper development of motivation and character, to such an extent that the movie ends without us ever really knowing much about one of the two men who loved Molly, the one played by Beau Bridges, although we do love him at the end as a colorful and generous-spirited old geezer. Lovin' Molly plays out like one of those Doug Sirk soap opera films from the 50s rather than like a character-oriented 70s piece. If it had been my decision, I would have found a way to minimize or even eliminate the last two acts, particularly given the silly make-up used to age the characters.

The script fails in other ways. The portrayal of Texas rurals seems like the kind of "noble savage" idealization that would be created by someone who had never left Boston. Furthermore, the author chose to replicate the feel of McMurtry's language by simply having it read in narrative voice-over, with each of the three acts narrated by one of the three main characters, following the structure of the book down to the last detail.

The script problems were complicated by the odd casting of Norman Bates as a sane heterosexual from the rural Texas Panhandle. Perkins always manages to seem like a disturbed city boy from New England who is recruited to play a country boy in the school play because the drama teacher thinks it will help him cure his introversion. His love scenes with Blythe Danner were, to understate the case kindly, lacking in electricity. He was supposed to be someone who had trouble expressing affection, but he took it to pathological extremes. Maybe she should have taken a shower to invoke some kind of passion.

I still like Lovin' Molly in some ways. It can get inside you and melt your heart in its best moments, and it's easy to understand why the boys loved Molly, as played with feisty unconventionality by Gwyneth Paltrow's beautiful, curvaceous mother, Blythe Danner, who had some talent to match her looks.

But the damned thing just isn't as good as it should have been.

It's been more than thirty years since this film was made, and it's almost completely forgotten, so I'd love to see somebody else try their hand at McMurtry's "Leaving Cheyenne." I still think there's probably a great movie in there somewhere.



  • No features except the original trailer
  • Widescreen transfer, anamorphically enhanced



Blythe Danner - extended buns, and a brief well-lit look at her chest.

Susan Sarandon - right nipple.

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews online

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is a C-. The IMDb score tells it all. This is a modest, mostly adequate movie - which is a major disappointment from such an outstanding group of people.

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