A shiny car! A washer-dryer! A pony! One overworked 1950s housewife wins these spoils and more in The Prize Winner of Definace, Ohio, a drama that suffers from silver-lining syndrome. Based on the life of Evelyn Ryan (Julianne Moore), whose contest-winning jingles (”Kraft’s Parkay won’t tear fresh bread/Even ice-cold it will smoothly spread”) helped feed her family of 12, it’s a charming true story; but the seesaw between hard knocks and windfalls — You’re evicted, but wait! You’ve just won $5,000! — turns the film into one queasy ride.
EXTRAS In their commentaries, Moore and writer-director Jane Anderson separate fact from fiction. (Fact: frequent fish-stick dinners. Fiction: the sour milkman chiding Evelyn when she can’t show him the milk money.) But even with its gallery of Ryan family photos, the special features come up short. Why no compilation of Evelyn’s blue-ribbon jingles?