Picks and Pans Review: My Sister's Keeper

updated 07/06/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/06/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Cameron Diaz, Abigail Breslin, Alec Baldwin | PG-13 |

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DRAMA
Looking for a good cry with a bad movie? My Sister's Keeper is here to serve. This maudlin weepie from director-cowriter Nick Cassavetes, who demonstrated his mastery over manipulating tear ducts with 2004's The Notebook, is loosely based—the ending has been changed—on a bestselling novel by Jodi Picoult. The drama shows in wallowing detail how a family is torn apart by their reactions to a teen daughter's (Sofia Vasilieva) long battle with chronic leukemia.

The true heart of the story is the refusal of the mother (Diaz) to accept that it might be time to let go. But the movie wanders off track early, devoting too much time to an unlikely story line about the youngest child (Breslin) suing her parents for "medical emancipation." She supposedly doesn't want her folks to make her donate a kidney to her ailing sister.

Diaz and Jason Patric, who plays the father, do what they can to buffer the saccharine by underplaying, but it's a losing battle. Keeper may succeed in making you reach for your hankie, but it just seems plain silly once the tears have dried.

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