A Woman's a Helluva Thing
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Houston (Angus Macfadyen) has it all. He’s a politically-incorrect playboy who runs a successful men’s magazine (think FHM or Maxim…something with scantily-clad women on the cover). And he’s a slick ladies’ man who gets any and every woman he wants. In fact, he’s got a woman (or maybe two) for every mood.

When Houston’s mother—whom he hasn’t seen in a decade—dies, he rushes back home for her wake. There, he’s reunited with Zane (Penelope Ann Miller), an old flame—one that he decides to rekindle. But that’s when things start falling apart for Houston. When he goes to meet with his mother’s lawyer to go through his mother’s estate and take ownership of the family’s ranch, he’s given some shocking news: for the last few years, his mother had lived with a lover—and she’d made her lover the executor of her estate. Houston’s in for more of a shock when he discovers that his mother’s lover isn’t the young pretty boy he’d seen at the wake—it’s Zane.

Houston tries everything he can to get Zane out of his mother’s ranch, but she’s not moving. So he returns home to seek legal advice—and to try to forget about Zane and his mother. He refuses to return Zane’s calls, and he tries sleeping with even more women to make himself feel better, but he just can’t get it off his mind. So he decides to move into the ranch anyway—even though Zane is still there—and he starts planning to throw his magazine’s big fifth-anniversary bash (complete with wet-T-shirt contest) on the property.

Unfortunately for Houston, nothing’s working out the way he planned. Several of his girlfriends become angry and decide they’re tired of being used. The magazine’s wet-T-shirt contest ends in disaster. And Houston starts to learn the disappointing truth about his parents—especially about his dead father, whom he’d always revered as the perfect man.

A Woman’s a Helluva Thing tries really hard to be a good movie—but falls flat on its face. The plot had potential—I really expected to enjoy it—but the story lacks subtlety. It’s all just a little too obvious and a little too corny (like the scene where Houston examines the giant bear that his father claimed to have killed himself and discovers a tag that says “Made in Mexico”—or when he goes out into the woods and runs into a grizzly bear that his mother always talked about, but that Houston didn’t believe existed). The characters are dull and two-dimensional—from Houston, the playboy-with-a-lesson-to-learn, to Claire (Ann-Margaret), Houston’s selfish, plotting, money-hungry stepmother, to Zane, the sweet and innocent girl who’s going to teach the playboy about truth and love. And, in the end, it doesn’t feel like anything of importance (or interest, for that matter) really happened.

Despite its potential, A Woman’s a Helluva Thing fails to come together, and it ends up being an awkward, uncomfortable mess. If you see it on the shelf at your local video store, just keep walking.

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