MOVIE REVIEW – Manna from Heaven **CRITICS PICK**

By Natalie Hopkinson

When a big white truck dumps thousands of dollars at a nondescript doorstep in an Irish/Italian neighborhood in Buffalo, N.Y., a houseful of people dance in the streets and divvy up the windfall, certain their dreams are about to come true.

They learn otherwise, decades later, when they are still living humdrum existences. So when Theresa (Ursula Burton), a nun who also lived in the house assembles the group to announce that God told her they must pay the money back, they flat out tell her she’s crazy. But Theresa the saint is not to be resisted. The group agrees to come up with a scheme to raise the money, which entails rejuvenating an abandoned theater in town, and in the process, most of their hopes and desires.

To hopelessly jaded moviegoers, the film may come off a bit mushy, with a conclusion as neatly stitched together as a Disney Channel sitcom. Even the most hardened characters have a fierce sweet streak. (Among the familiar faces in the cast are Cloris Leachman, Shelley Duvall, Seymour Cassel and Jill Eikenberry.) The least cuddly performance is delivered by Wendie Malick (“Just Shoot Me”) who plays the misanthrope Inez, a tough-talking card dealer.

Overall it is a nice effort by Five Sisters Productions, which has given audiences a much-needed reprieve from the angst, irony and mean-spiritedness that is endemic to modern cinema.

MANNA FROM HEAVEN (PG, 119 minutes) – Contains some bad language and sexual references. At AMC Hoffman Center, AMC Potomac Mills and Ballston Commons.