White Oleander (2002) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The story follows a young girl's travels through various types of foster care in the years after her mother is convicted of murder. Over the course of time, the girl comes to understand a lot more about her mother's actions, and about life in general. The story chronicles the ups and down in the girl's life, as well as the parallels in her relationship with the murderous mother.

Michelle Pfeiffer received a best supporting actress nomination at the SAG awards for her portrayal against type as the selfish, scheming, thoroughly detestable mother who proves herself still capable of a noble action when her daughter's welfare is on the line. Robin Wright and Renee Zellweger rounded out the talented cast, as two of the foster moms.


no real nudity, but there is a very clear, well-lit look at Robin Wright's entire butt in thong underwear

DVD info from Amazon

good transfer, 1.85:1 widescreen anamorphic

I don't have much to say about this movie. While there is nothing especially good about it other than glossy production values and a talented cast, there is nothing very bad about it either. Although it is a soap opera and the source novel was once an Oprah Book Club selection,  it is about equally appealing to men and women, as reflected in both IMDB scores and CinemaScore exit polls.

The Critics Vote

  • General USA consensus: two and a half stars. Ebert 2.5/4, Berardinelli 2.5/4, Entertainment Weekly B-.

  • Although she received no serious Oscar consideration, Michelle Pfeiffer was nominated by the SAG as best supporting actress, losing to Zeta.

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 6.8/10, Yahoo voters 3.1/5.
  • Box Office Mojo. It drew little attention at the box office, grossing 16 million dollars domestically. Production costs totalled about the same amount, as did marketing costs.
  • Exit interviews: Cinema Score. It scored pretty much straight C+/B-, despite the fact that it seems like a chick-flick on the surface
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. 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 even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My 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. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. 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.

Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. 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-.

Based on this description, this film is a C+. Acting and production values are excellent, but it is a soap opera, and its audience is delimited by that fact.

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