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Film / Hope Floats

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Hope Floats is a 1998 romantic drama film, directed by Forest Whitaker. The main stars are Sandra Bullock, Harry Connick Jr., Gena Rowlands and child actress Mae Whitman.

The film stars with Chicago housewife Birdee Pruitt (Bullock) accepting an invitation to a talk show, supposedly to receive a makeover. Actually she is there to have her husband Bill (Michael Paré) publicly announce the end of their relationship. He is leaving her for her best friend Connie (an uncredited Rosanna Arquette). Humiliated on national television and with nothing keeping her in Chicago, Birdee takes her young daughter Bernice (Whitman) and moves to her hometown of Smithville, Texas. She has to reconcile herself with her estranged mother Ramona Calvert (Rowlands) and start working for a living.

She has further problems with getting accepted by the locals. Birdee used to be the Alpha Bitch in high school, a three times beauty pageant winner and one of the few of her contemporaries who managed to make it outside the small time. Several people have held long-time grudges for her, have seen her broadcasted public humiliation and don't miss a chance to rub it in her face. The exception is Justin Matisse (Connick), a former classmate who remembers her fondly. There is a growing mutual attraction between them. Unfortunately, Bernice is a Daddy's Girl and blames her mother for taking her away from her father. She sabotages any attempts Birdee makes to start dating again. Until realizing that her father no longer cares about her.

Provides examples of:

  • Alpha Bitch: Birdee in her younger years.
  • Blaming the Cuckold: Bernice blames her mother for her father's affair, until her father leaves her behind as well.
  • Bonding over Missing Parents: Bernice finally starts to warm up to Birdee after the trip to the nursing home, pointing out that neither of them have a father now.
  • Chick Flick: Obviously.
  • Daddy Didn't Show: Which cements Bill's Jerkass status.
  • Daddy's Girl:
    • Bernice until daddy abandons her.
    • Birdee as well. She's the only one who manages to get a reaction from her father, who is in a nursing home after suffering a stroke and Alzheimer's.
  • Divorce Is Temporary: Bernice hopes for this or at least to live with her father in Chicago. She’s wrong on both accounts.
  • Disposable Fiancé: Bill fits this role, though as a Disposable Husband.
  • Embarrassing Last Name: Even after accepting Justin as a possible stepfather, Bernice is against taking his family name. She feels Bernice Matisse would be incredibly embarrassing.
  • From New York to Nowhere: Following her marriage imploding, Birdee and Bernice leave Chicago for Smithville, Texas.
  • I'm a Man; I Can't Help It: Bill’s excuse for cheating on Birdee, along with falling out of love with her. Birdee calls him out on it.
  • Jerkass : Bill and Connie both, but Bill is a supreme version, not to mention a coward and possibly emotionally abusive. Towards the end, when Birdee refuses to aid him when a crying Bernice demands he take her with him, he has the nerve to be honestly surprised. Whatever Birdee's past may have earned her, one hopes that this fun couple is in karma's sights.
  • Little Miss Snarker: Bernice tends towards this.
  • Never My Fault: Bill refuses to take responsibility for his actions or even properly apologize.
  • Parental Abandonment: Travis’s father is unknown and his mother is working in Hollywood. It’s heavily implied at the end that she’s not coming back.
  • Plot-Inciting Infidelity: Bill and Connie telling Birdee about the affair on live television and with Bernice in the audience kicks off the plot.
  • Shipper on Deck: Birdee’s mother is a big one for her daughter and Justin, much to Birdee’s chagrin.
  • Two-Timing with the Bestie: In the beginning, Birdie is given the news that her husband Bill is having an affair with her best friend Connie and is planning to leave Birdie for her. Not only is the reveal painful, but it's also humiliating — the news is broken to her on an episode of The Ricki Lake Show, to which she was brought under false pretenses.
  • Visit by Divorced Dad: Bill, the guy who leaves Sandra Bullock's character Birdie for another woman and dumped her on live television comes back. Birdie is, of course, leery, but their daughter Bernice, who absolutely hates her mother and idolizes her father, prepares to leave with him. But Bill tells her she can't go back with him because he's too busy having fun with his new wife and leaves her crying.
  • Wrong Guy First: Bill is the poster boy for this trope.