Sitting in Bars with Cake (2023)

Movie Info

Movie Info

Trish Sie
Run Time
2 hours

VP Content Ratings

Sex & Nudity
Star Rating
★★★★★5 out of 5

Relevant Quotes

A friend loves at all times, and kinsfolk are born to share adversity.

Proverbs 17:17
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.”  Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

James 4:13-14
Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.

John Lennon
Jane (rt) prepares a cake as Corinne looks on approvingly. (c) Amazon Studio

I love it when a film far exceeds my expectations, as this MGM-Amazon produced film did. What I thought would be an amusing boy-meets-girl flick, suitable for eating popcorn and sipping a soft drink with, turned out to be a deeply moving celebration of a friendship between two young woman. The premise of a woman baking cakes and taking them around to L.A.’s nightspots so as to attract boys seemed like a cute device some Hollywood writer would dream up, but it turns out that the story is based on a young woman who did exactly that, though the rest of this Trish Sie-directed film is from the fertile brain of writer Audrey Schulman.

Jane (Yara Shahidi) and Corinne (Odessa A’zion) were friends back in Arizona even as children. Corinne is the liveliest of the two, while Jane is more quiet, drawn to scholarly pursuits. When Corinne secured a job at the Decca Records tower in L.A. Jane followed her there, supposedly to explore colleges there, being under pressure from her parents to pursue a law degree. The film begins with Jane baking a cake for Corrine, but rather than eating dinner at home, Corrine decides she wants to sing karaoke at the local bar. They bring the cake along. Everyone so admires the lavishly decorated cake that Jane asks the bartender for a knife to share the cake with everyone. It is so delicious that they all start chatting with her, bringing her out of her shell, to the delight of Corrine.

Back at their apartment Corinne suggests that they go to one bar a week with a different cake for a whole year. They remove a picture and tape up a map of the L.A. where using a marker and red string, they show the various bars—it looks like the kind of map the police would use in plotting a series of crimes in the region. The plan turns out to be a good one, with Jane connecting with guys and coming out of her shell. Plus, she discovers she loves baking and decorating the cakes.

At work (where Jane also serves as the mail girl) Corrine’s off-putting boss Benita (Bette Midler) tells her that she is giving her a promotion, which will entail a lot more responsibility. As the two friends celebrate success for both Corinne’s promotion and the popularity of Jane’s cakes and romantic life, the mood is suddenly broken by Corinne’s headache, and then a seizure. At the hospital they learn that Corinne has a brain tumor that will requires a combination of radiation and chemotherapy. Corinne’s mother Ruth (Martha Kelly) and father Fred (Ron Livingston) rush in from Arizona. We have met them earlier, with Fred always finding something that needs to be fixed—even at the hospital. They stay with their daughter even though it is crowded in the apartment with all four, but eventually agree to leave her in Jane’s loving care. Both sets of parents have been close to the other’ daughters through the years. Jane keeps up a bold front and is upset when she learns that Jane is not really interested in becoming a lawyer like her mother but is too timid to tell the parents.

In the weeks of therapy Corinne and Jane have their ups and downs emotionally. At one point Corinne who wants to go out and have fun but is constrained by her concerned friend has a meltdown, yelling that Jane and her care ”Sucks!” In another scene the two simply sit exhausted by everything and wordlessly gaze at each other, their faces exuding their love and concern for each other, as well sadness over what is happening over which they have no control. By the end of the film you really feel that you have accompanied both young women on their journey of love and sorrow, one punctuated by laughter and tears, hope and frustration. In one touching scene we see that Jane’s campaign to bring her friend out of her shell has succeeded, both with her parents when she tells them what she really wants to do with her life, and with the young man she has been dating but must part from because Corinne needs her more.

I was wondering why Bette Midler was included in the top billing with the two lead actresses, when her role was little more than a cameo part. My son Dan, who attended the advance screening with me, pointed out that it probably was because of the similar storyline with the 1988 film Beaches, a movie about the devoted friendship of two women played by Midler and Barbara Hershey. One, that he pointed out, was not as good as this one, because the earlier one was dripping with so much sentimentality. This one has lots of sentiment, but always pulls back from the maudlin. Even though cancer is prominent, this is not one of those once fashionable “Disease of the Week” movies. You might well feel moisture in your eyes at the end, but the tears are well earned by the two consummate young actresses and the taut, skillfully-written script and direction.

The film was screened at selected theaters throughout the country on Sept. 6, and will be available on September 8 in over 240 countries and territories to those who are members of Prime Video. Am I ever glad I joined, and when you see this, you will be too!

This review is in the Sept. issue of  VP along with a set of questions for reflection and/or discussion. If you have found reviews on this site helpful, please consider purchasing a subscription or individual issue in The Store.

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