Appellate Judge James A. Stewart advises students to finish college the first time, preventing TV movie cliches.
"My roommate is a twenty-year-old biker girl with lots of attitude. She thinks I'm hilariously old-fashioned."
Alice Washington (Cybill Shepherd, Cybill) has returned to Smith College to finish her college degree so she can become a teacher. She's supposed to get a room to herself, but there aren't any. Naturally the college has come up with the most incompatible roommate possible: Zoe Burns (Corri English, The Bedford Diaries), the aforementioned biker girl with lots of attitude. Alice's side of the room looks like it was decorated by Martha Stewart, complete with flowers; Zoe dumps her wrinkled clothes out of a duffel bag.
Thus, Mrs. Washington Goes to Smith is set up, with the help of a lot of shorthand expository dialogue about Alice's failed marriage and Zoe's problems with her mother in California. The Hallmark Channel TV movie's first reel is deadly. Even Cybill Shepherd sounds unexcited as she reads the requisite story point dialogue; one almost wishes she'd deliver it like her latest TV son, Shawn Spencer, with silly sarcasm.
However, it does get better as it goes along. It's not quite believable that Alice lands a spot on the basketball team, even if it's on the bench, but her struggles to get in shape, encouraged by a younger student, are entertaining. The chaste romance between Alice and a widowed professor (Jeffrey Nordling, 24) seems sweet, charming, and believable, delivered with shy glances rather than dialogue. When the story gets moving a bit, Shepherd gives a warm, likable performance and shows good rapport with the rest of the cast.
What this movie needed was some plot editing. If Mrs. Washington didn't throw in every storyline (Did Zoe really have to copy Alice's poetry quiz?), the main ones—Alice's late-blooming romance and Zoe's thoughts about quitting school—would have been stronger.
The picture and sound quality are solid on my screener. There are no extras.
It's a sweet movie. If you like romantic comedies and Cybill Shepherd, it's worth a rental. If you're not that into romantic comedies, it's nothing that you'd go out of your way to see, but you might still keep watching if you stumbled onto it partway through on the Hallmark Channel, provided you came in sometime past the first half-hour.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Inception Media Group
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