Picks and Pans Review: The Butcher's Wife

updated 11/04/1991 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/04/1991 AT 01:00 AM EST

Demi Moore, Jeff Daniels

Fans of this movie will call it "sweet," "wacky" and—playing off the title—"choice"; detractors, "gristle." Both will be right.

Moore is a clairvoyant living on an island off the North Carolina coast. Relying perhaps a bit too much on signs and portents, she marries vacationing butcher George Dzundza and soon finds herself living in a benign enclave on the island of Manhattan, sorting out the problems of the locals and causing untold distress to the neighborhood psychiatrist, Daniels.

The naif with extrasensory gifts, or extra sensitivity, who rearranges the lives of those around her, has long been an entertainment staple (On a Clear Day, Yon Can See Forever). The Butcher's Wife brings little new to the mix. But there are some small, funny touches, including two zany neighborhood women who serve as a Greek chorus, and Christopher Durang as a psychiatric patient whose sessions keep being interrupted. Moore has a tenuous grasp on her back-country accent but is otherwise fine. Still, she cannot begin to compete with Mary Steenburgen, delectable as a timorous, bespectacled New York City church-choir leader turned barroom chanteuse. Daniels and Dzundza are appropriately bothered and bewildered by the mystifying Moore. At one point Dzundza confides to Daniels, "My wife is going off the deep end. A short trip for her." (PG-13)

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