Picks and Pans Review: Leaving Normal
That Leaving Normal features a running joke about confusing the words "flan" and "phlegm" indicates this winning comedy-drama's offbeat mindset. Blending Northern Exposure and Thelma & Louise (minus guns), Normal is a movie about inadvertently finding self, home and family.
At its heart are the affecting Lahti and Tilly, strangers who become friends while pooling resources and wits on a Wyoming—Alaska trip. Lahti (The Doctor) mines the showier role as a foulmouthed ex-waitress—the kind of woman who advises kids to smoke when they grow up. The less flashy Tilly (Agnes of God) is effective too as a young woman who, despite a history of failed marriages and careers, expects happiness to be just a life choice away.
Director Edward (Glory) Zwick, helped by a sweetly goofy screenplay by Edward (Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure) Solomon, has created a road picture that meanders but knows where it's going. (R)