Premonition: Classic Chicken Casserole

Year Released: 2007
Directed by: Mennan Yapo
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Julian McMahon, Nia Long, Kate Nelligan, Amber Valletta, Peter Stormare
(PG-13, 110 min.)

"The past, the present, and the future are really one. They are today." Harriet Beecher Stowe

Most of us are willing to cut a little slack for a smart and stylish time travel thriller, but this script taxes the patience of even the most devoted Sandra Bullock fans. There is little the charismatic star can do with material that is so pockmarked with illogic, bombastic melodrama, and unintentional humor.

The premise of the story is not bad. Linda Hanson (Sandra Bullock) is devastated to learn of her husband’s fiery death in a car accident, only to awaken the next day to find him drinking coffee and very much alive in their kitchen. She puts off her earlier perception to a very vivid dream, only to find the nightmare a reality the next day, as she stumbles downstairs to find it filled with mourning friends and relatives.

It’s almost as though some creative writing teacher came up with this intriguing idea and asked his freshman to flesh it out into a script. Or closer yet, he assigned it as a group project and the committee doled out each segment to a different person. Nothing else accounts for the gaps in cause and effect, the uneven emotional tone, and lapses into Asian/adolescent horror. 

One of the problems for writers in this genre is to explain the genesis of the time aberration. H.G Wells created a fantastic Time Machine capable of sending his time traveler forward 30 million years, while the less ambitious scriptwriters for the recent Deja Vu create a contraption that can go back in time a modest four days and six hours. A magnetic storm and an old ham radio combine to allow a son to communicate with his long dead father and perhaps avert a terrible crime in 2000’s Frequency. The only explanation for the jumbling of 7 days of the week for Linda Hanson in Premonition is her priest’s vague reference to a lack of faith. Such a soggy source doesn’t hold up, suggesting that we might have been better off with no proffered explanation rather than this insipid one. 

Another missing element is the lack of urgency and purpose on Linda’s part. She half-heartedly tells her husband of her “bad dream,” and never mentions details of this dilemma to her best friend Annie (Nia Long), a plucky and potentially resourceful confidante, if ever there was one. Instead she looks up a shrink in the Yellow Pages who listens to her with not very well-concealed disdain and writes a prescription for Lithium. I mean, didn’t that drug go out of style somewhere in the 80’s anyway, along with One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest style sanitariums? Today’s Catch 22, I believe, is that if you don’t think you’re crazy, they can’t just strap you down to a gurney and do the old force injection thing anymore.

And then there are the strangely covered mirrors throughout the house, and the approach to her daughter swinging with her back turned to us. Of course, as the camera pans closer we just know something is going to shock us, just as it does Linda, who doesn’t remember the recent accident that has turned her daughter’s face into a pattern of neat stitches. (The fact that this accident happens on Tuesday, but that the daughter shows no signs of it in Thursday’s opening sequence is somehow lost in this metaphysical wasteland created by sloppy scriptwriters.)

The film takes a turn for the better as Linda confronts her husband about the ennui in their marriage, and his answer rings true in well meaning guy denial: “What do you mean. We have a house, a mortgage, and two kids?” Their ensuing rapprochement gives us some hope for a positive resolution that will sugar over any earlier quibbling details. (This is the segment penned by the more able creative writing student.)

Too bad the most cynical one had to write the finale, killing the goodwill just created, and making our last taste of Premonition as sour as the dregs of ancient wine.

—Kathy Borich

Film-Loving Foodie

The wooden two story with a homey front porch, the two lovely daughters she shepherds off to school with kisses and spelling reminders, and the beautiful wedding picture that graces their mantle - these are the icons of Linda Hanson’s life as suburban wife and mother. Even if the loving smile of the picture is not quite so poignant now in Jim’s hurried goodbye as he rushes off to the office.

Mealtime at the dinner table, a ritual long abandoned by many, is still preserved in Linda’s house. And what better dish to serve her family than Classic Chicken Casserole, its mellow sauce and egg noodles the essence of comfort food!

Help yourself to this family favorite and remember those good old days when your mother worried and waited on you.

Classic Chicken Casserole 

  • 1 can (103/4 oz) condensed Cream of Chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 2 C cooked chicken
  • 1 sm onion, chopped
  • 1/4 C green pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 C red pepper, chopped
  • 1 C shredded Monterey Jack, divided
  • 1 C shredded Cheddar, divided
  • 12 oz egg noodles, cooked and drained

Combine soup, mayo, lemon juice.
Add chicken, onion, peppers, 1/2 C Monterey Jack, 1/2 C cheddar.
Mix well.
Add noodles and toss to coat.
Transfer to greased baking dish.
Bake uncovered at 350 for 30-35 minutes.
Sprinkle with remaining cheeses.
Bake 10 minutes longer or until veggies are tender and cheese is melted.

Recipe Source: