Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood is a fancy way of saying "Sentimental Reminiscences of a Bunch of Talkative Southern Women."

I can personally testify that the book of the same name has been a bestseller. Having taken the bus to work for ten years, I'd say Ya-Ya is one of the titles I've seen being read the most. There's something about those saucy personalities, the secret social scandals, and the drawn-out drawling that is still appealing to readers six years after the book's publication. And the themes—what forgiveness can do to a grudge, what friendship and ritual can do for a community—ring true with readers and apparently with movie audiences too. Ya-Ya was the second most popular movie ticket of the week. Not bad for a bunch of belles, considering they're up against Obi-Wan Kenobi, Spider-Man, and Jack Ryan.

Critics, however, are asking for more than colorful personalities and honorable themes.

A critic at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is not entirely pleased. "In the way it presents women's relationships, particularly Southern women, the film sporadically makes an emotional connection with the audience. And the talented cast and snappy dialogue soften the high melodrama of the talky film. But more often than not, it may leave viewers dissatisfied with its frugal character development which often crosses the line into caricature."

Phil Boatwright agrees: "Although the film has a superb cast up to anything a writer can throw at them, the material becomes downright silly. It's slick, but with a superficial handling of adult subject matter. With an unconvincing, syrupy ending, the film loses any genuine poignancy."

Michael Elliott (Movie Parables) thinks the pros outweigh the cons. "Callie Khouri … has assembled ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.