‘Friends with Money’ is so-so

While most movie fans think living the movie star life must be the best thing on Earth, writer/director Nicole Holofcener casts a shadow on that lifestyle in “Friends with Money.” The ensemble film offers her peek into what it might really be like to have money - for some, less than your friends, and for others, more.

Frannie (Joan Cusack), Jane (Frances McDormand) and Christine (Catherine Keener) are the three friends with money who are worried about their friend, Olivia (Jennifer Aniston). Once a productive but apparently unhappy teacher, Olivia now works as a maid. And while the other three women are in - they think - successful marriages, Olivia can’t find a meaningful relationship with a man.

Frannie and Matt (Greg Germann) seem to be the couple with the least problems. They have lots of money, open communication, great sex and happy kids. Frannie spends her time raising the children and pursuing many of her interests: working out, philanthropic endeavors and trying to mirco-manage Olivia’s life. “Shall we just give her some money?” she asks Matt.

Cusack, a great comedian as shown in films like “School of Rock” and “High Fidelity,” and Germann, well-known for his role as Richard McBeal on “Ally McBeal,” flush out these characters perfectly.

Olivia’s (Jennifer Aniston) life is a mess. She gave up teaching to work as a maid and snoop through clients’ drawers and isn’t doing any better in the dating department. Olivia gets hooked up with one loser after another and realizes she no longer fits in with her rich friends. The character is boring with no redeeming values and played with even less enthusiasm by Aniston.

While Jane wants to give $2 million to her kid’s school, Olivia is denied a loan from her.

“But she’s sort of OK with it, she’s kind of blissfully oblivious,” said Aniston, who said she had plenty of experience as a maid as a young girl living at home when she had to clean her parents’ house twice a week.

Jane (McDormand) and Aaron (Simon McBurney) each think their marriage is perfect. Jane, a successful fashion designer, earns a good living, but something in her life is wrong. Suddenly she’s angry with everyone, lashing out at people on the street and store clerks. She’s refused to wash her hair for some time, a development that has her friends not only worried but also put off.

McDormand (“North Country,” “Almost Famous”) can make any role her own. A joy to watch, she slides you into a story like a hand into a snug-fitting glove.

Aaron is an adorable, perky and successful sock designer. Practically Mr. Mom, he cooks, entertains, is great with the kids and is always happy. Behind his back, friends swear he’s gay. When he meets another married man in a coffee shop, the two strike up a friendship. McBurney (“The Manchurian Candidate,” “Human Touch”) is an English star who plays funny, sincere and mean characters. He’s delightful in “Friends with Money” and gives, I believe, the standout performance.

Christine (Catherine Keener) and David (Jason Isaacs) think remodeling their house will solve their marital indifferences. A screenwriting duo who work from home, they’re really on different planets. Christine is upset she never gets any emotional reactions from David. When she complains, he tells her it took weeks before she noticed he shaved off his beard.

Several cast members agreed to do this film because of their admiration for writer and director Nicole Holofcener (“Lovely and Amazing,” “Walking and Talking”). Keener has appeared in all three of Holofcener’s films.

“Nicole just writes such great characters that are fun to play,” Aniston said.

“Friends with Money” is playing at Landmark La Jolla Village.