In the course of just 15 minutes, April (Helen Hunt), an uptight, 39-year-old teacher, sees it all. Her husband (Matthew Broderick) confesses to cheating and leaves. She finds out she's pregnant. Her adoptive mother dies. She meets a rumpled, but no less sexy, single dad named Frank (Colin Firth), the man of her dreams. And she receives a letter from her birth mother, a flamboyant talk-show host named Bernice Graves (Bette Midler). Whew.
Based on Elinor Lipman's novel, "Then She Found Me" is certainly action-packed in the emoting, chick-flick sense. The film doesn't further the Hollywood fantasy of perfection, nor is it another feel-good yarn about surmounting hardship. Rather, unheroic characters deal with their troubles in more reflexive, human ways. Bernice is a fibber. Frank's prone to outbursts. April has an irritable air.
For the most part, however, this endeavor at realism is not particularly artful. In fact, the moral of the story is delivered in the unsubtle manner of a sermon. People aren't perfect; loved ones will fail us time and again: So goes the heavy-handed lesson from Hunt, in her directorial debut.
As for Hunt's acting, she sticks by her shtick. Hers is a sulking April, lovely in her physical stillness but, even so, a devoted party-pooper, a stiff. The brow is fixed in a furrow, the thin voice in a shrill. She hurls complaints at her loved ones. An Excedrin-packing viewer can hardly stand this woman, let alone the preachy obviousness she wields. (Rated R.)