Heche rarely wanted for work, whether on TV, stage, or in movies. There’s no question, though, that her relationship with Ellen Degeneres (and its ending) and tabloid-style coverage of her mental health struggles dampened her trajectory. The late 1990s had seen her well on course to Hollywood’s A-list, but studios were seeing her a little differently by the early 2000s. For all her impressive TV performances, this was the one that earned her single Primetime Emmy nomination (she’d won a Daytime Emmy for her work on Another World in 1991); she plays Rowena Lawson, the manipulative, substance-addicted mother to Kristen Bell’s Gracie. Concluding that her mother won’t get help, Gracie finally decides to fight for custody of her brothers, with a little help from Grandma Lou (Diane Ladd). Rowena isn’t particularly likable, but Heche brings humanity to a difficult part; the three leads together elevate what might have been a more traditional movie-of-the-week.
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