Lake Goes Up Front
My hat goes off to the real Linda Dackman who wrote the book "Up Front" on which this made for TV movie is adapted as the basic storyline to "Matters of Life & Dating" is great. I am sure the trials and tribulations, emotions and feelings which we watch Linda go through are very real and I would hope would be of help to any single woman facing the same fears. The trouble is that the adaptation doesn't quite work and whether that is down to the casting of Ricki Lake or the screenplay I am not entirely sure but the humour, and "Matters of Life & Dating" is a comedy, doesn't quite work.
Having been in relationships all her life Linda Dackman (Ricki Lake - Mrs. Winterbourne) wants to know what it is like to be single; to know if she still has it so ends it with boyfriend Kevin (Gabriel Hogan). But it turns out that dumping Kevin is not the worse thing to happen to Linda that day when she receives a call from her doctor with bad news, she has breast cancer. Fortunately whilst it means a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery she won't need to have chemo so that is something. But for Linda having breast cancer and a mastectomy brings with it fear not just about the risk of dying but also what it means to her love life, will men ever find her attractive again?
So "Matters of Life & Dating" takes us on this journey of Linda as she deals with the emotional upheaval of breast cancer and the fear of having had a breast removed will make her undateable. On this level it works as we watch Linda deal with some very real things, from not wanting to be one of those women who go to group sessions to settling for a man because he is secure rather than out of love. Those are just a couple of the very real dilemmas which are covered in the movie and I can only see how this would help others who are going through a similar situation.
The trouble is that whilst the jokes are there, from her male work colleagues not knowing how to react to Linda on her returning to work after having a mastectomy to an internet dating montage most of them just don't quite work. This may be down to the casting of Ricki Lake who brings her likeability with her but doesn't quite have the punch to make the sarcasm work and it prevents the movie from really firing. The other actors get it, Rachael Harris as Carla has the right tone and buzz to make her lines snappy and witty but unfortunately because Ricki Lake is the central character a lot of the jokes don't quite work.
What also doesn't work or at least for me is the frequent use of interview style scenes as characters talk to the camera as if they are part of a documentary. What they have to say is worthwhile but these moments feels very wrong, forced in there because so many other movies which deal with cancer use the same thing. And the way this is eventually explained also feels forced.
What this all boils down to is that its heart "Matters of Life & Dating" is a good movie with a worthwhile story to tell. But unfortunately either the casting or the writing or the inclusion of faux interviews prevents it from being just an okay movie.