It begins cheerily enough: In a roadside diner, sourpuss Alex (Alan Rickman) is approached by Vivienne (Emily Hampshire), a cloying teenager who hits him up for a ride. Cue cute road trip montage of Vivienne cheering up Alex, and then cue—KER-SMASH!—a semi truck tearing through Alex's SUV, killing Vivienne. But the real surprise is yet to come: When Alex goes to apologize to Vivienne's mother, Linda (Sigourney Weaver), it turns out she's retarded. Awww-kward!
Okay, Linda's not retarded, she's a "high-functioning" autistic. But it still boils down to Weaver doing all the standard "actors pretending to be retarded" tricks, highlighted by Weaver looking at blinking LED lights and saying "OOoooOOOoOo! Sparklies!" and gleefully eating snow. The oh-so-British Alex—who has a shady past, but is still an okay guy—sticks around to help Linda out, and he also finds time to get some play from Linda's neighbor, Trinity from The Matrix (Carrie-Anne Moss).
Here's the deal, actors and actresses: Unless you're actually retarded (hi, Corky!), don't play a retard. Whether you're Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump or Sean Penn in I Am Sam or Robin Williams in House of D or Adrian Brody in The Village or Leonardo DiCaprio in What's Eating Gilbert Grape or Rosie O'Donnell in Riding the Bus with My Sister or that dude who plays Mr. Bean in anything about Mr. Bean, actors trying to act disabled is almost always just forced and clichéd, like some sort of minstrel show about the mentally handicapped.
And Sigourney Weaver: You are an excellent actress. You can do comedy (The TV Set) and you can do drama (The Ice Storm) and you can kick ass (Aliens). What you can't do, however, is act retarded. Oh, your work here isn't self-absorbed like Sean Penn's, or unintentionally hilarious like Rosie O'Donnell's, but it's still pretty horrible to watch ("OOoooOOOoOo! Sparklies!"), and Marc Evans' precious, maudlin direction doesn't help. Where's Corky when you need him?