Rebecca Wellsís 1997 bestseller translates surprisingly well to the screen under the hand of director Callie Khouri (who wrote the screenplay for Thelma & Louise). This estrogen-addled tale follows four fast-aging friends, one of whom has a pressure-cooked relationship with her playwright daughter. After Sidda Lee Walker (a monotone, pouty Sandra Bullock) talks too much to Time about her screwed-up childhood, all hell breaks loose on the home front. Only momís crew of friends, named the Ya-Yas, a curious holdover from a fake-ethnic childhood club, can save the situation. They highjack Sidda Lee and clue her in on the back story to the insanity of her mother, Vivi (the elegant Ellen Burstyn), while an old keepsake album takes the girls back and forth between the past and the present, between emotionally charged memories and therapeutic resolution.
Impulsive, irascible, impetuous, and insane, this quartet of Southern women clink glasses so deftly, they make alcoholism look chic. The Golden Girls meets The Prince of Tides meets Steel Magnolias in this mix of cocktails, clichés, gray hairs, and breakdowns. Unfortunately, the repetition of the chant "YA-YA!!" at every climactic turn becomes a sappy mantra that could kill the buzz this film dishes with its fraught relationships among mom and daughter and tight-knit friends. Ya?