The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio
|The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio|
|Directed by||Jane Anderson|
|Produced by||Jack Rapke
|Written by||Jane Anderson|
|Based on||The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less
by Terry Ryan
|Music by||John Frizzell|
|Editing by||Robert Dalva|
|Distributed by||DreamWorks Pictures|
|Release dates||September 2005 (USA)|
|Running time||99 minutes|
The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio is based on the true story of housewife Evelyn Ryan, who helped support her husband and ten children by winning entries in jingle-writing contests.
Evelyn's husband, Kelly, failed to support his family in part due to apparent alcoholism. He had dreamed of being a singer but lost his singing voice in a car accident, and was often cruel and abusive.
In the movie, Evelyn wins a large freezer, ice buckets, a washing machine, a trip to New York, sleds, boots, a pony, a palm tree, a window, a sports car, a shopping spree in her local grocery store, ice crushers, a camera, dance shoes, a boat motor, pogo sticks, a case of dog food, and a lifetime supply of bird seed. Kelly, who feels like his role as provider for the family is being threatened, criticizes Evelyn and sometimes damages the prizes she wins. Their children side with her. At one point, Kelly gets angry at his wife and knocks her over while she is carrying 12 full glass bottles of milk, causing her to nearly sever a ligament. Evelyn is able to talk him down after each incident and, temporarily at least, he treats her better.
Evelyn is largely isolated because of the hours she has to spend caring for the children and the lack of local intellectual equals. However, she is contacted by a group of other contest-entering mid-western housewives and befriends them.
Ultimately, Evelyn discovers that Kelly had secretly taken out a second mortgage on their house and never made payments on it, leaving the family subject to an almost-certain foreclosure. The children pray for their mother's miraculous victory in a contest sponsored by Dr Pepper. She wins and pays the mortgage on the house.
In the closing sequence, set years later, we learn that after Kelly died, Evelyn finds out that he has placed his pension checks in a bank account especially for her. The actual Ryan children are then shown as adults.
- Julianne Moore as Evelyn Ryan
- Woody Harrelson as Leo "Kelly" Ryan
- Laura Dern as Dortha Schaefer
- Trevor Morgan as Bruce
- Simon Reynolds as Ray the Milkman
- Monte Gagne as Lee Ann Ryan
- Jordan Todosey as young Tuff Ryan
- Ellary Porterfield as Tuff Ryan
The film received mixed reviews, garnering 57% on movie review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 31⁄2 out of 4 stars, remarking that the movie "avoids obvious sentiment and predictable emotion and shows this woman somehow holding it together year after year, entering goofy contests that for her family mean life and death."
Some of the dresses Julianne Moore wears in the movie were actually Evelyn Ryan's, which her children had saved and then allowed the filmmakers to use.
The washing machine won by Evelyn Ryan is a Westinghouse Laundromat, the actual machine is owned by washer enthusiast Robert Seger, and currently resides in Minneapolis, MN.
- "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 12, 2011.
- The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio (movie review), Chicago Sun-Times, September 30, 2005. Retrieved 2008-01-13.