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Film Review: SITTING IN BARS WITH CAKE (2023): A Moving Dramedy About the Powerful Bond of Friendship

Yara Shahidi Odessa Azion Sitting In Bars With Cake

Sitting in Bars with Cake Review

Sitting in Bars with Cake (2023) Film Review, a movie directed by Trish Sie, written by Audrey Shulman and starring Yara Shahidi, Odessa A’zion, Bette Midler, Ron Livingston, Martha Kelly, Maia Mitchell, Charlie Morgan Patton, Simone Recasner, Rish Shah, Aaron Dominguez, Will Ropp, Adina Porter, Navid Negahban, Reshma Gajjar, Kayla Njeri and Andrew Goetten.

Director Trish Sie has made a winning and funny drama called Sitting in Bars with Cake which will appeal to audiences who love literature-inspired films about young people. Think The Fault in Our Stars or The Sun is Also a Star.  The stars, this time out, are replaced with cakes which two young ladies bring with them to bars in order for one of them, Jane (Yara Shahidi of The Sun is Also a Star) to meet someone special. The other girl is named Corinne and is played terrifically by Odessa A’zion in a “star”-making performance. This film is essentially about a friendship that overcomes tragedy and some very awkward situations to stand out as truly sincere and special. This film has its goofy moments and is probably too sappy, but it’s enjoyable to watch and heart-warming as well.

We meet Jane and Corinne who work together in the corporate world although in two vastly different positions. Jane is in the mail room and has law school aspirations while Corinne works for the high-profile and very demanding Benita (Bette Midler). The two young ladies draw up a poster that designates 50 weeks of the year in which they will go to bars with a cake that Jane bakes in the hopes of Jane meeting that special somebody. The 50 weeks isn’t 52 because they’ve accounted for Thanksgiving and Christmas weeks which means they deduct those two. The first experience at a bar with cake leads to a young man sending Jane a pic of his penis but the girls won’t give up as they bring all sorts of cakes, including a yummy sounding orange one, to local bars.

There are some laugh-out-loud scenes. Especially humorous is when Corinne is wearing a pair of goofy cardboard glasses while she is talking to other characters about how important it is for her to be respected as an adult. Sadly, though, Corinne has cancer and her parents, Fred (Ron Livingston) and Ruth (Martha Kelly) want to take her away from her Los Angeles home in order to help care for her. But, Corinne stays behind with Jane as the two of them try their hardest to overcome the harsh realities of the fact that Corinne is living with what is most likely terminal cancer.

Jane eventually meets a guy at work who she connects with. Corinne oversteps her boundaries suggesting that Jane buy some underwear and bras that are being sold very cheaply by a street vendor. They are only “3 for $25,” Corinne says but Jane feels like her privacy is being invaded because of Corinne’s unsolicited interference in her sex life. This scene is very strong, and feels authentic. It is well acted by both stars.

Jane doesn’t want to be a lawyer but has a hard time letting her parents, Tasha (Adina Porter) and Isaac (Navid Negahban), know. It takes Corinne’s inspiration for Jane to finally come to terms with accepting the fact that her parents need to know about her true professional goals. Jane loves baking cakes and is very good at it. Her parents just hope that she isn’t quitting law school to go into acting.

As in The Sun is Also a Star, Yara Shahidi is just about perfect. Shahidi is the real deal and offers the audience a respectable characterization which is both relatable and believable. This movie is even stronger than it could have been because A’zion is so terrific at playing off Shahidi. Their interaction together on-screen creates one of the best and most memorable female movie friendships of the year. A’zion’s raw vulnerability is present on screen and she runs away with many of her scenes in the picture. As Corinne starts to become forgetful, tragedy strikes and the results make for a very profound and moving ending. A’zion will have you stick by her character every step of the way.

The supporting cast is actually pretty good. The Divine Miss M, Bette Midler, is decent here. A race is conducted to raise money for Corinne’s medical situation and in this scene, Midler gets to have fun as she tells a crowd that she won’t let them go until she reaches the financial goal that has been set for the cause. Midler only has a few scenes but she’s solid, adding her larger-than-life presence to the movie. Ron Livingston is the most valuable supporting performer, though, as the caring father who will do anything to make sure his daughter is taken care of which includes fixing up her apartment. Livingston’s character has a lot of heart and the actor gives the father a lot of depth as well in just a few scenes.

This movie has its problems. The use of wordy songs in the beginning of the movie gives the film a too breezy vibe that doesn’t prepare the viewer for the more serious events which are forthcoming. Also, Martha Kelly’s performance as the mom feels a little too stilted even if it is true to life as this film is loosely based on a true story.

Other than those minor flaws, though, Sitting in Bars with Cake will ultimately put a smile on most viewers’ faces and leave a tear in some audiences’ eyes as well. It’s not a great film by any stretch but it’s something like Beaches which Midler herself was in. It’s not as great as that movie, but Sitting in Bars with Cake has a lot of heart and stands out as a truly moving motion picture.

Rating: 7.5/10

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