Better Housekeeping (2002)
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Filmmaker Frank Novak debuts with this wild satire about a white trash marriage that's coming apart at the seams. Fanatical toy collector Don (Bob Mills) and his Italian-born wife Donatella (Petra Westen) are so estranged from one another that they use their only child Don, Jr. (Andrew Eichner) as a go-between. The warring couple both still live in their rundown North Hollywood bungalow, even though their divorce court date is in only two weeks. Donatella is too afraid of losing all of her belongings to move out, while Don is using every trick in the book to drive her out. When he learns that Donatella, who works as a forklift operator, has the hots for female company manager Marion (Tracey Adams), Don goes berserk. He builds a wall clean through the middle of the house with a little doggy-door so that Don, Jr. can shuttle between the two halves. As the film progresses, the tranquility of Donatella and Marion's half contrasts sharply with the high-school basement party atmosphere of Don's, which is populated with an increasingly motley array of drug-addled toy collectors and general freaks. His loser brother-in-law Chuck (Zia) agrees to act as a house security guard in exchange for being allowed to live in Don's car with his crack-addict girlfriend Tiffany (Maeve Kerrigan). Meanwhile, men's rights advocate and gun nut Joe (Al Schuermann) arms Don with guns and eventually a rocket launcher -- after which things get really out of control. This film won the Grand Prize at the 2000 Slamdance Film Festival. … More
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Critic Reviews for Better Housekeeping
Plays like one long, meandering sketch inspired by the works of John Waters and Todd Solondz, rather than a fully developed story.
As broad and cartoonish as the screenplay is, there is an accuracy of observation in the work of the director, Frank Novak, that keeps the film grounded in an undeniable social realism.
Too stupid to be satire, too obviously hateful to be classified otherwise, Frank Novak's irritating slice of lumpen life is as reliably soul-killing as its title is nearly meaningless.
The movie is ... very funny as you peek at it through the fingers in front of your eyes.
Novak manages to capture a cruelly hilarious vein of black comedy in the situation with his cast of non-actors and a gritty, no-budget approach.
In spite of Good Housekeeping's unsavory characters and WWF mentality, this white trash War of the Roses is a surprisingly engaging film.
With its cinema verite feel, Better Housekeeping manages to elicit the occasional surprised laugh.
As pure over-the-top trash, any John Waters movie has it beat by a country mile.
This loud and thoroughly obnoxious comedy about a pair of squabbling working-class spouses is a deeply unpleasant experience.
Novak contemplates a heartland so overwhelmed by its lack of purpose that it seeks excitement in manufactured high drama.
Idiotic but at times close to cuddly redneck rogues and foul mouthed bimbos populate this white trash purgatory somewhere between cartoon noir and soap farce.
'The War of the Roses,' trailer-trash style. Entertaining but like shooting fish in a barrel.
The script lacks the sophistication that would motivate anyone but a Springer fan to keep watching in hopes that the battling couple would soon annihilate each other.
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