As her script for When Harry Met Sally proved, Nora Ephron is a gifted, extremely funny writer; on the evidence of her directorial debut, however, she should not give up her day job. Despite the formidable comic presence of Kavner, as a single mother from Queens who gives up selling cosmetics to become a full-time stand-up comedienne, the film suffers from too much syrup and not enough schtick. When she gets her first club date, her daughters (Mathis and Hoffmann) are thrilled to bits; but when she graduates to big-time Vegas shows, they begin to resent her maternal neglect. They also resent her tendency to incorporate these familial tensions into her act. Most disappointingly, it is the script more than the images that lacks focus; by dividing the voice-over narration between mother and daughters, Ephron and her sister/co-writer Delia multiply the points of view and introduce unnecessary confusion. Like her character, Kavner struggles valiantly to reconcile the demands of comedy and domestic drama, but ultimately succumbs to a surfeit of schmaltz and Carly Simon songs.