Starring: Lily Tomlin, Julia Garner, Marcia Gay Harden, Judy Greer, Laverne Cox, Sam Elliott
Directed By: Paul Weitz
Written By: Paul Weitz
Rating: R (US) Running Time: 1 hr 19 min
An unwanted pregnancy is the driving force behind this quasi road trip, with Sage (Julia Garner), the ‘expecting’ granddaughter, and Elle (Lily Tomlin) the grandma. Which predictably, becomes a time for everyone in this story (especially granny) to reflect and organize their thoughts about the past, and its influence on the present.
And that’s all there is to it really. Because at a mere one hour and twenty minutes long, this film doesn’t give its characters or story a whole lot of time to do anything impactful.
Lily Tomlin’s performance is fine, even entertaining. But acting the sass talking lesbian granny seems almost beneath Tomlin’s abilities. A no-brainer role for someone as experienced as she is. Certainly as it’s written here. More caricature than character. Delivering ‘trailer’ worthy scenes of grandma ‘telling it like it is,’ but when viewed within the context of the film, seemed more boorish than boisterous.
Then there’s the omnipresent, though never seen lost love, Violet. A guide from beyond the grave? Certainly an important part of grandma’s life, and her daughter’s, Judy ( Marcia Gay Harden). But written in like cliff notes, and I craved more detail or even (heaven forbid) a flash back scene so I could properly understand why this person had so much influence over this movie’s titular character.
As delivered, this film’s potentially touching story line and great cast, are not given enough screen time to develop. Resulting in a film that doesn’t amount to much more than a collection of scene chewing moments for Lily Tomlin.
At the screening I attended, the majority of the audience were, well, grandmas! And they seemed to really enjoy it. The movie is rated R for language and some drug use.
This film will be equally effective on any sized screen you care to watch it on. This isn’t a ‘big’ screen event picture.
The scene where Elle goes to meet her old friend/lover, Karl (Sam Elliot). Elliot is getting a lot of great press for his performance, and for good reason. He simply knocks it out of the part. Equal parts gruff, and wounded teddy bear. I’ve personally never seen Sam Elliot deliver a performance like this. His scenes with Lily Tomlin are easily the best moments in the film.