Show of the week
"This is for all the fat girls!" Camryn Manheim declared jubilantly in 1998 when she accepted an Emmy for her acting on The Practice. "I'm only doing it for the fat girls," Samantha "Sam" Berger (Manheim) says before her first bona fide gig as a stand-up comedian. For those unaware that Manheim is a woman on a mission to gain fair treatment for the un-thin, this new take on the Cyrano de Bergerac tale pounds the message home.
Sam has a fertile comedy mind but can't get over the idea that her size precludes a performing career. So she tends bar in a nightclub and provides free material to Jennie (Alexondra Lee), an aspiring comic who's all looks, no wit. When talent scout Michael (Scott Cohen) falls for Jennie and her act, Sam helps the pretender keep him hooked by feeding her clever lines for professional and romantic use. Sam does this despite her own love for Michael. Why? Her pregnant pal Casey (Marlee Matlin) suggests masochism, and I'm not sure I would argue. Nevertheless, the star's persuasive performance will have you rooting for Sam, who works with the deaf and rides a motorcycle just as Manheim did in real life.
On the minus side, the movie is manipulative. (Brace yourself for an emergency interruption just as Sam gets comfortable onstage.) And there's no need for comedy veteran Henry (Dabney Coleman) to remind us so often of Sam's brilliance and Jennie's lack of smarts.
Bottom Line: Not the classiest act, but Manheim fans will dig it