Cut from the same cloth as "How to Make an American Quilt" with a side order of "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café" and a faint whiff of "Steel Magnolias", "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" is another of those clumsily-titled, cross-generational chick flicks Hollywood churns out every now and then.
The formula rarely changes: Southern accents, copious flashbacks and lots of all-girl bonding, usually involving actresses who have seen better days.
In this case they include Maggie Smith, Fionnula Flanagan and Shirley Knight, lifelong friends and founder members of the Sisterhood. They come to the aid of one of their number (Burstyn) when her playwright daughter Sidda (Bullock) calls her a bad mother in a magazine interview. Travelling to New York, the "Ya-Yas" drug Sidda and whisk her down South, where they attempt to show her why her mom became the eccentric screwball she is today.
Cue the obligatory flashbacks in which Burstyn is reincarnated as Ashley Judd, a vivacious Southern belle forced to endure a series of setbacks. Gradually we learn what caused the rift between mother and daughter - the drug-fuelled breakdown Judd suffered when Sidda was a child.
Leaping back and forth between present and past, director Callie Khouri tries to combine broad comedy with period nostalgia and tear-jerking drama. Unfortunately, like Maggie Smith's Louisiana twang, the result is far from convincing - though its sentimental melodrama may appeal to women of a certain age who are looking for an alternative to bingo.