By Jill Rachlin
Updated July 31, 1992 at 04:00 AM EDT

Punchline with a parental twist, This Is My Life is the self-conscious story of a single mother (Julie Kavner) who wants to be a stand-up comic. She hits it big, only to find that the joke’s on her; the demands of her career almost cost her the affection of her two daughters (Samantha Mathis and Gaby Hoffmann).

A small film that seems more at home on video than it did on the big screen, this directorial debut from Nora Ephron (who wrote the screenplay for When Harry Met Sally…) tries hard to be insightful and witty but comes off strained and predictable. Comic relief is intended to come from Kavner’s stand-up routines about placenta cream, purse snatchers, and her penny- pinching aunt’s entry into heaven. That’s funny: It doesn’t.