Tim Stack
March 01, 2009 AT 06:22 PM EST

If you tuned into Saturday night’s premiere of America, starring Rosie O’Donnell, and you’re like me, you may have been surprised by the fact that the movie is actually good — disturbing, but a solid TV movie. Personally, I was kinda looking forward to an unintentionally hilarious classic like O’Donnell’s 2005 teleflick Riding the Bus With My Sister. (For those who don’t remember Sister, check out this clip summary.) I actually have an Emmy Consideration Ad from Variety for O’Donnell’s performance in the film hanging on the wall in my office. To this day, it still makes me giggle. Needless to say, O’Donnell was beyond over the top in Sister as a mentally challenged woman who, in my favorite scene, went toilet seat shopping.

But, in America, she is understated and believable. The real star, though, is newcomer Philip Johnson as America; he’s simply fantastic. In my review of the film in last week’s EW (it earned a B+), I called his performance “raw and moving.” His final scene with the great Ruby Dee, where they just touched foreheads, is heartbreaking.

What do you think of America, PopWatchers? Are you impressed?

addCredit(“Ben Mark Holzberg/Lifetime”)

You May Like