Daniel (Robert Pattinson) has been spending a lot of time with his crush, Charlotte, who has just learned she is pregnant. Daniel helps Charlotte with her pregnancy struggles and finds himself on a memorable 9-month journey with three independent, outspoken women. Through the tears, laughter and love, this dysfunctional family finds a way to stick it out together.
Twilight fans will love seeing the swoony vampire hunk Robert Pattinson back before he was undead. The Bad Mother's Handbook, a BBC TV film based on the bestselling book by Kate Long, is a smart, crisply directed portrait of a family of three strong women, and the men who love them and sometimes let them down. Pattinson plays Daniel, an extraordinarily gawky and dweeby high schooler who befriends Charlotte (Holliday Grainger), a bright 16-year-old who discovers she's pregnant. Charlotte's family is completed by her mum, Karen (Catherine Tate), The Bad Mother's Handbook's narrator, and Nan, Karen's adoptive mother (the venerable Anne Reid), who's dotty but lovable. The ostensible stars of The Bad Mother's Handbook are these three women, but Pattinson's Twilight mega-stardom guarantees that many members of Team Edward will be among its most devoted viewers. They won't be disappointed. Pattinson's Daniel wears ill-fitting boots, pants, scarves, jackets--even glasses. His lank hair is lush and auburn, not spiky and vampire-black. Daniel takes the pregnant Charlotte under his wing and spends her entire pregnancy as her one-man support group. Grainger is well cast as the confused, sullen, but still hopeful Charlotte, and she and Pattinson have a believable friend chemistry that lifts their scenes together. Reid transcends her limited role with quiet, emotion-filled scenes that stay in the memory. And Tate gives a spirited performance, though the transition of Karen from the page to the screen could have used some softening; a lot of Karen's rants and snipes about her lot in life are funny in the book and come off as shrill and unfeeling in the film version. Still, the ensemble cast is excellent and no Twilight fan will be able to resist watching a young Pattinson honing his acting craft. --A.T. Hurley