Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette in Miss You Already.

Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen) directs Toni Collette and Drew Barrymore in Miss You Already, an illness-of-the-week movie that rises above the formula, thanks to great work by the two stars and the men playing their husbands.

Milly (Collette) and Jess (Barrymore) are lifelong friends who have shared many experiences together. Milly marries a rocker (Dominic Cooper), and Jess couples up with a blue-collar worker (Paddy Considine), with both couples looking to start families. Milly has two kids, while Jess tries hard to have a baby. She finally gets pregnant—and at the same time, Milly is diagnosed with breast cancer.

Hardwicke and friends do a good job showing the hardships Milly faces, including chemotherapy and emotional stresses. The proceedings feel real, thanks in large part to a screenplay that isn’t afraid to show human frailties and flaws.

Collette gets the showier role here, and she again displays why she is one of the more underrated actresses out there. Barrymore gives what may be her best performance yet as the best friend who won’t take shit from her pal, even if that pal has cancer. Cooper and Considine deliver dark humor with male characters who are refreshingly honest and goofy.

I’d say this is a Beaches for the new millennium, but that would be an insult. This movie is actually good.

Miss You Already is now playing at the Regal Palm Springs Stadium 9 (789 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs; 844-462-7342); the Regal Rancho Mirage Stadium 16 (72777 Dinah Shore Drive, Rancho Mirage; 844-462-7342); and the Cinemas Palme d’Or (72840 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-779-0430).