“…. Yet the picture is entertaining anyway--and at times entrancingly so--because Diane Keaton is the lead. Returning to comedy after years of dramatic roles, she has lost her dithering vagueness; she's brisk, almost fierce, and she transforms the shopworn ideas into something ardent and fresh.
“Keaton plays America's perfet management consultant, J. C. Wiatt… Each morning… this paragon sweeps into her office…, spouting flow-chart gibberish so fast that four assistants stand openmouthed with wonder. Has anyone done a more likable boss-lady turn than Keaton? The bold walk as she enters the office seems designed to show off her broad-shouldered, cinch-waisted clothes; she stares down her superior and then pumps herself up for the morning's work like a linebacker before a big game. We enjoy her enjoying herself--she's never been sexier than as tough-talking J.C., offering arrogant advice to impressed company heads as she swings around a conference table in a flawless black dress.
“Part of our pleasure, of course, comes from knowing that J.C.'s air of mastery is something of a put-on (under the mahogany table, her toe is tapping uncontrollably). Keaton makes us see that J.C.'s super-confidence is, indeed, a confidence trick. The constant revving up ("Hey, the Tiger Lady is on the case. I'm totally on top of it") holds off panic. And perhaps only a woman could bring us this insight: A male actor of Keaton's status probably wouldn't have the candor to play it this way….
“Even when Keaton allows J.C. to get foolish and bitchy, we like her. Her nasty moods have a giddy transparency (we can spot the nice, struggling woman underneath), and yet she still manages to stay deep inside the character, allowing us to see how the baby's falling into J.C.'s lap amounts to a betrayal of her whole life. After all, J.C. has probably worked much harder than a man to develop that aura of invincibility. Suddenly, she's pushed back to the common fate of woman--taking care of a child (and, perhaps the most exasperating thing of all, she's not even good at it.) Her anger doesn't seem crude or vicious. Keaton, with her talent for ambivalence, does the heart-tugging thing that the filmmakers require without embarrassing us: She lets us know that J.C.'s angry because she's giving in; she's falling in love….
“…. [W]hen taking care of Elizabeth begins to interfer with her job, she chucks that… and runs off to Vermont. Just like that. After establishing the character with some care, Meyers and Shyer expect us to believe that this Harvard M.B.A. would buy an old house and 62 acres over the telephone, sight unseen…. The boondocks are treated in the same stale way that New York is, but soon Keaton has another wonderful moment, lamenting her life to a frightened plumber as she stalks back and forth in the cold like a snowbound Medea. She faints, and wakes up in the office of a doctor who also appears to be the only young man in the county….
“…. As Private Benjamin made clear, Meyers and Shyer know how to thump all the populist chords; they know how to bring down a woman who thinks she's better than anyone else. But what if someone really were better? This democratic leveling has its demeaning side. The filmmakers humanize J.C. too much, making her spill things on the floor and bang haplessly at a flat tire, as if we wouldn't like her if she weren't incompetent at something. The same belittling impulse appeared in teh Katharine Hepburn movie Woman of the Year (1942)…. Filmmakers are always cutting heroines down to size for the mass audience, many of whom may not want their heroines diminished.
“The conventionality of Meyers and Shyer's wisdom is infuriating. We're meant to understand that J.C.'s terrific business career is based on the denial of her womanhood. Raising the baby, on the other hand, makes her a woman for the first time and a better person--she can accept sex and love. The filmmakers' assumptions about what people really need could come close to enforcing mediocrity. How can Meyers and Shyer be so sure they know what's best for a woman? Some women just don't have a vocation for motherhood. But Diane Keaton makes me believe that J.C. has it.”
New York, October 12, 1987