The fabulous Lily Tomlin finally gets the lead role she deserves in this smart, engaging comedy-drama. Like her title character, the film itself refuses to play nice, tackling big issues like abortion and the strain between mothers and daughters without ever simplifying the topics or the people involved. The plot may feel a bit contrived, and the entire movie rather lightweight, but it's thoroughly entertaining. And the subtle approach to the big themes gives it a strong kick.
Tomlin plays Elle, a mature woman who has just broken up with her girlfriend Olivia (Judy Greer) for no real reason. Then her young granddaughter Sage (Julia Garner) turns up asking for money to terminate her pregnancy. Elle doesn't have the cash, but offers to help her find it, so they head off into Los Angeles in her rattling 1955 Dodge, visiting the unborn baby's stoner father (Nat Wolff) and some of Elle's colourful old friends (Elizabeth Pena, Laverne Cox and Sam Elliott). But both Elle and Sage are terrified that they might ultimately need to get in contact with Sage's workaholic mother Judy (Marcia Gay Harden), the daughter Elle never knew how to talk to.
The layers of mother-daughter interaction in this film are fascinating, and played with riotously jagged chemistry by the gifted cast. Tomlin punches every witty one-liner perfectly, capturing Elle's life-loving spirit and also her weary exhaustion at the way the world keeps changing around her. Tomlin finds terrific angles in each of Elle's relationships, drawing out Garner's wide-eyed yearning, Greer's steeliness and Harden's professional bluster. Each of the side roles feels like a fully formed person with a life of his or her own, which gives context to the humour and makes the entire film feel more weighty and meaningful.
Continue reading: Grandma Review
Elle Reid may be tough, but she's struggling coping with a recent break-up with her girlfriend. If that wasn't enough to contend with, her 18-year-old granddaughter Sage has just shown up at her house, and she needs over $600 immediately. She's pregnant and Elle's financial situation isn't at its best, but she's determined to do everything she can to help her granddaughter. She takes her on a roadtrip to recover cash from Sage's ex-boyfriend - and while her method of extracting money could be more polite, Sage is glad of her company when she manages to obtain it. Elle gives Sage a lesson in tough-talking as she continues to tour the country selling her possessions and begging cash of some old friends. When the pair arrive to see Sage's mom, it's another story; she's a high-flying business woman and the complete opposite of her mother and daughter - and it's clear to see why Sage chose Elle to help her out.
Continue: Grandma Trailer
Elle Reid is an ageing poet recovering from a broken heart following her break-up with her long term girlfriend. When her troubled 18-year-old granddaughter Sage turns up on her doorstep one day, she thinks she finally has the distraction she needs. However, Sage needs $600 and Elle, now being pretty much broke, can't give it to her. Instead, she offers to drive her around on a long road trip to recover cash from various friends and ex-boyfriends; though it's not only cash they find on the way. Numerous secrets are uncovered and old conflict is resurfaced, and Sage is forced to face responsibility and start becoming an adult. At the same time, Elle knows it's time for her to start thinking about the most important things in life, accept the troubles of her past and stop living under the 'tough woman' guise.
Continue: Grandma - Clip
Zach is a total mess following the sudden death of his girlfriend Beth and turns to her equally grief-stricken parents for support. However, when they stop contacting him, he becomes confused by their evasiveness and begins to suspect their daughter is still alive. Sure enough, there's a hole in the ground by her presumably previously occupied grave and she appears to have resurrected from the dead. Zach doesn't know what to think, but when he sees her looking just the same as she did before she died, he is overcome with emotion and decides to tell her everything that he wished he'd said before she passed. However, their happy ending is quickly cut short when Beth starts displaying increasingly erratic behaviour - such as biting and eating a man. Realising that she's a zombie complicates things for Zach, who'll give anything to keep her around but struggles to cope with her newfound brutality.
Continue: Life After Beth Trailer
We generally expect more wacky humour from Fey and Rudd than this comedy, which is packed with perhaps too-smart dialog and a lot of warm sentiment. It's an odd mix, looking for jokes in gender roles and higher education, while also finding dramatic and romantic moments along the way. But in the end, the engaging actors make it worth a look.
Fey plays Portia, an admissions officer at the prestigious Princeton University, who's in competition with her office rival (Reuben) for a big promotion as their boss (Shawn) gets ready to retire. Unhelpfully, Portia's long-term boyfriend (Sheen) chooses this moment to leave her. Diving into her job, she visits a progressive high school where the director John (Rudd) is trying a bit too hard to get her to consider unconventionally gifted student Jeremiah (Wolff) for admission to Princeton. Then John tells Portia that he thinks Jeremiah is the son she gave up for adoption 18 years earlier. Meanwhile, Portia's aggressive feminist mother (the superb Tomlin) brings up even more past issues she's never quite dealt with.
The way the screenplay piles all of this on Portia at the same time is more than a little contrived, but Fey juggles it effortlessly, throwing hilariously intelligent one-liners around even in the more intensely serious scenes. Opposite her, Rudd is more understated than usual, and also creates a strongly defined character as a rootless wanderer who just wants to help make the world a better place, but needs to pay more attention to his adopted Ugandan son (Spears). Yes, screenwriter Kroner throws in every variety of parent-child issues too.
Continue reading: Admission Review
Portia Nathan is a prim and proper admissions officer for the prestigious Princeton University and finds herself living a consistent, routine life with rules and specifications that she is uncomfortable to veer from. During a visit to recruit possible admissions to the college, she calls at a rather unconventional countryside high school headed by John Pressman, a classmate of hers that she met when she was in college. While he is determined to steer Portia towards some rather gifted students of his, he also wants to introduce her to a boy named Jeremiah who he believes is a prodigy and also the he was the child that she gave up for adoption after an unplanned pregnancy in college. John and Portia find themselves falling for each other and while John is happy to let things take their course, Portia is adverse to the idea of romance but she soon finds her life moving towards the kind of happiness she never knew she could have while at the same time doing everything in her power to get her biological son to college - even if that means breaking rules to do so.
'Admission' is a wonderfully heart-warming romantic comedy directed by comedy genius Paul Weitz ('About a Boy', 'American Pie', 'Little Fockers') and written by Karen Croner ('One True Thing', 'Cold Sassy Tree') and novelist Jean Hanff Korelitz in her screenwriting debut. It is set for release on March 8th 2013.
Continue: Admission Trailer
For most of his life, Nick Flynn has never known his father. He has remained absent for most of his life, serving time in prison for forging cheques. Nick's father, called Jonathan, is a self-proclaimed poet and spent most of his time in prison writing letters and poems.
Continue: Being Flynn Trailer
The Klumps once again revisits the life of Sherman Klump, an overweight university science professor looking for love in all the wrong places. Sherman has just invented a new "youth drink" that enables man or beast to become younger for a short period of time. Janet Jackson is the love interest who chooses the lovable Sherman for a soul mate rather than excel at her career as a university professor (and for the most ridiculous reasons). With love on his mind, Sherman is determined to rid himself of his alter ego, Buddy Love from the first Professor, who still resides with vigor inside his psyche and causes Sherman to act like a bad imitation of Vince Vaughn from Swingers. With some convoluted mumbo-jumbo about DNA extraction, Sherman extracts the "Buddy Love" link in his DNA and smartly deposits Buddy into a handy-dandy lab beaker. But one night, the beaker is knocked over and Buddy Love is regenerated... because every movie like this needs an unnecessary villain to thwart the good guy.
Continue reading: Nutty Professor II: The Klumps Review
Whatever else may be said, this film is the work of consummate professionals, and that doesn't mean it's soulless but competent hackwork. Writer/director Paul Weitz showed with his wonderful, glowing adaptation of Nick Hornby's About a Boy that he could tell heartwarming stories that didn't insult the mind and could inject just enough acidity into a romance to keep a movie from flopping into a messy, Love, Actually-style mess. The directing and writing here are superbly crisp, and one really couldn't ask for better performances, both from the stars and supporting cast.
Continue reading: In Good Company Review
Ninety-five minutes of feeling creeped out and uncomfortable passes for indie flick entertainment in "Chuck and Buck," a movie in which the audience supposed to sympathize with a stalker just because he's naive and slow-witted.
Buck, you see, never grew up. He's a 27-year-old whose mind gave up around age 11. He wipes his nose on the back of his hand; sucks on lollypops all day; makes collages with construction paper cut-outs, sparkles and Elmer's Glue. And when his mother dies, he becomes consumed by an obsession with his "best friend" Chuck -- a kid he grew up with but hasn't seen in 15 years.
The two childhood pals are reunited at the funeral, and for the simple, infantile Buck nothing has changed. He's ready for the two of them to run through sprinklers or play Chutes and Ladders.
Continue reading: Chuck & Buck Review
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