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By Brad Laidman | September 5, 2001

I just watched Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine bicker back and forth, mother and daughter style, in “Postcards from the Edge.” And then I turned on Jerry Springer and saw the white trash equivalent of the same thing. Mom brought Jerry Springer into the house to videotape her 20 year old married daughter’s bedroom. Only the surprise was on Mom, because the daughter took the rest of the tape and filmed herself rutting with mom’s huge pool shark boyfriend. Then Mom and Daughter had it out with each other. They basically are saying the same things but it sounds a lot cooler when Carrie Fisher writes the dialogue. I for one think it would be an interesting endeavor to translate an episode of The Jerry Springer show directly into Carrie Fisher speak. I’m not saying it would be as good as Postcards From the Edge, but my guess is that it would be as good as most sequels. Carrie Fisher’s second book was called Surrender the Pink. It doesn’t really have anything to do with Postcards but I really like that title and I don’t see myself ever finding another forum to express that.
Of course, in this movie the lowlife boyfriend is Dennis Quaid, who plays basically a good looking Eddie Haskell with a lot of money. He drops Meryl Streep off at a hospital emergency anonymously after she OD’s, lies to her about whether they had slept together the night she OD’ed and despite her delicate condition tells Meryl Streep that he loves her about 13 minutes after he has slept with some other hot babe. What a guy!
Postcards is also better than the Springer show because the girls in it can sing. Meryl Streep sings a killer version of the wonderful Ray Charles song You Don’t Know Me. I have to admit that before seeing this I had never heard You Don’t Know Me, but it’s a great song about being empty and desolate. If you ignore the really bad white background singers (How did Ray let that happen?), you’d be hard pressed to find a more aching declaration of love and despair. It made a great addition to the Tape of Depression I made after having my heart ripped whole from my barely breathing body, but enough about me.
Shirley’s song is pretty impressive too, but she’s not an artist she’s a movie star. Meryl’s song was an expression of her abandon, but like most rappers Shirley’s is about how fly she is. Their other problem as I see it is that they are on different drugs. Mom is a heavy drinker. Daughter is into Coke. I’ve never been a fan of either, but I can imagine that they are completely different trips and shouldn’t be mixed. No wonder they don’t get along. Did Speedy Gonzalez and Droopy get along? Probably not.
What I find to be cool is that Mom goes the whole movie without apologizing for her addictions. The older generation had it made. Drinking is legal. Their drugs are prescription filled. Poor people have drug problems. Most of the richer older generations had Doctors for their habits. My Grandmother was like that. Valium was like aspirin for that generation. Mom’s problem is apparently that Eddie Fisher left her. It’s hard to tell if she really loved Eddie Fisher a lot or if she was just embarrassed that he publically left her.
Daughter’s hassle is more self imposed angst she feels from some need to have had a more normal life. Hmm. Normal life sucks! Stop your whining and get on with your movie star life. Mom gets that. She drives her car into a tree and joyfully tells the press that she off to have some more drinks; She doesn’t wear underwear to her daughter’s Birthday parties; and has lots of sycophant friends. Mom can handle her medication and daughter can’t so of course she blames Mom.
The key issue here is should I have to look at Shirley MacLaine without her hair? I know that my discomfort is the intention of the scene, but in the end just like with Jackie Gleason’s foot in Nothing in Common, which is perhaps the creepiest thing I have ever seen in my life, I have to admit that I would have preferred not to have gone there. This is my favorite Meryl Streep performance but that may be because it’s the only one she has ever done in English.
Apparently there is a thing with mothers and daughters, because even Mom has Grandma to drive her crazy. Grandma is a hick who never stops yapping, which drives Grandpa batty. The Jerry Springer show is a little more entertaining than Postcards because unlike Mom, who talks about generations, and daughter, who claims to not have one, the Springer crowd only spans about twenty years. Their drugs are Cigarettes, Television, and Hostess Cup Cakes. In the end, if I am ever reincarnated and I have my choice between hating my White Trash Mom or hating my movie star Mom. I’m picking the movie star Mom every time.

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