Evelyn Couch (Kathy Bates) is a frumpy Alabama woman whose husband treats her like a piece of furniture. She attempts—fruitlessly—to improve her lot with consciousness-raising classes and weight-lowering exercises. The solace and strength she seeks she finds only in a burgeoning friendship with spunky octogenarian Ninny Threadgoode (Jessica Tandy). Ninny is a nursing-home patient who assumes the role of Southern-fried Scheherazade, spinning tales of her old Depression-era friends Idgie Threadgoode (Mary Stuart Masterson)—a scapegrace who defied convention by drinking, gambling, befriending blacks and defying the Klan—and decorous, noble, battered wife Ruth Jamison (Mary-Louise Parker).
Idgie and Ruth, seen in extensive flashbacks, start a café that is a place of peace and hominy, to say nothing of fried green tomatoes. Their friendship is meant to mirror the growing bond between feisty Ninny and decorous Evelyn, who is sufficiently inspired by the stories to become A New Woman.
But it's utterly incomprehensible that Evelyn would find Ninny's elaborate tales compelling, let alone inspirational. The script plods. Tandy looks as though she'd rather be elsewhere. The desire is understandable. (PG-13)