In This Is My Life, Dottie Engels is a single mother who supports her two daughters by selling cosmetics at Macy's in Queens, New York. She dreams of a career as a stand-up comic. When her aunt dies, Dottie takes her inheritance and moves to Manhattan. After stints at various comedy clubs, she attracts the attention of a high-powered agent. Soon Dottie is off to Los Angeles.
The first time Dottie's daughters, 16-year-old Erica and 10-year-old Opal, see her on television, they are ecstatic with joy. But being stuck at home with a succession of aspiring comics as babysitters begins to sour their enthusiasm. Opal remains Dottie's adoring fan but Erica becomes increasingly resentful and estranged from her absentee mother. The best year in Dottie's life becomes the worst one in the minds of her daughters.
In her debut as a director, Nora Ephron has done a wonderful job bringing Meg Wolitzer's novel to the screen. Julie Kavner is excellent as the wisecracking Dottie, a working mother who learns that juggling career and family is not an easy task. Samantha Mathis as Erica, the irksome adolescent, and Gaby Hoffman as the little princess Opal both deliver delightful performances.
This Is My Life manages to entertain while also presenting some interesting points about mothers and daughters and the tensions between career and family. In the end, Dottie and her daughters learn how to love each other more by respecting each other's needs.