Nora Ephron’s directorial debut, a film she scripted with her sister Delia, adapting the novel This Is Your Life by Meg Wolitzer, is a very personal effort, quite close to her own writing—a mixed blessing in more ways than one. The cleverness and the cruelty come in equal doses, and I can’t recall another recent picture with so many unattractive Jewish characters. The plot involves a single mother (Julie Kavner) from New York making her way as a stand-up comic while raising two daughters (Samantha Mathis and Gaby Hoffmann). One sign of trouble is the fact that Mathis, wonderful as the female lead of Pump Up the Volume, is reduced to a ghost here as the awkward older sister. Other awkward presences include Carrie Fisher, Dan Aykroyd, Bob Nelson, and Marita Geraghty. Despite a few laughs and insights along the way, the casual mean-spiritedness leaves a sour aftertaste.