July 2, 1988
Big Business – It begins when an addled nurse in a small West Virginia hospital mixes up two pairs of newborn identical twins, sending each set of parents home with a mismatched pair of baby girls. By chance, both families name their twins Sadie and Rose, who grow up to be played by Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin. The result is a cheerful, breezy summer farce played to the hilt by two splendidly comic performers, says New York Times critic Vincent Canby.
Sadie Shelton (Midler) is the overbearing, ruthless chief executive officer of the family’s Moramax company. Rose Shelton (Tomlin) is her sister’s loyal if faint-hearted first lieutenant. Their sisters are Sadie and Rose Ratliff, raised in rural innocence in a one-company town threatened when Moramax announces it is selling out to an Italian
speculator. Rose Ratliff organizes the town’s protest and the sisters head off to Manhattan where, by chance, the two sets of twins wind up in adjoining suites. There are multiple comic possibilities, and each sister has a suitor who finally finds happiness with a twin other than the one he started out with.
Midler gets most of the big laughs and is a fiendish delight, Canby says, while Tomlin’s two Roses are reserved butÂ no less funny. Good in supporting roles are Edward Herrmann and Michele Placido. – Mid State Cinema, Rated PG