Terry finds disappointment all around her -- not only in her vanished husband but also in the girls, whose every choice goes against their mother's wishes and dreams for them. Terry never imagined that bright Hadley would turn out so old-fashioned, and she loathes Emily's desire to pursue a career in dance, believing it an impractical aspiration. When Andy announces she's taken a job producing drive-time radio -- and taken up with her slovenly, lecherous older boss, played by the movie's writer and director, Mike Binder -- Terry can barely find the words to express her displeasure. She's speechless, her silence more devastating than all the shouting in the world. (She lets her imagination do her bidding, in a rather explosive scene set around the dinner table.) Only Popeye escapes her mother's blows. She's left alone, locked in her bedroom with a bong and the pretty-boy schoolmate who won't return her affections because, he insists, he's gay.
Into this upper-middle-class, neatly appointed cauldron of fury and despair stumbles Denny Davies (Kevin Costner), the neighborhood drunk, who goes nowhere without a bottle of Bud and a tightly rolled joint. Denny is a baseball hero-turned-radio host who refuses to talk ball on the air; the past, he insists more than once, is better forgotten than relived for the sake of cheap ratings. Costner, despite the dim, glazed eyes, is more alive here than he's been in years. Each time he shows up, the movie plays like a sequel to Bull Durham, Tin Cup or For Love of the Game.
Denny and Terry make perfect partners, drinking buddies who make the awkward leap into bed before realizing they feel something after all -- if not love, then, perhaps, the desperate need to connect to something other than a late-morning cocktail.
Binder, whose HBO series The Mind of the Married Man confused glibness for depth, has emerged with a mature, informed piece of work that sticks in your head, your heart, and your throat long after it's over. Only its cheap, easy ending disappoints. But the movie is so strong till then that you will forgive him his ending; these characters, who look like movie stars but feel like your next-door neighbors, transcend his flaws as a storyteller.