The Meddler Review

Just wanted to give a quick review to the movie I saw today called The Meddler.  This is a cute little indie film starring Susan Sarandon, Rose Byrne, and JK Simmons. If you like this review on youtube please give it a thumbs up and if you aren’t subscribed please do! Thanks so much.

It’s about a woman named Marnie who has been fairly recently widowed and has moved out to Los Angeles to be near her daughter. Marnie is bored and spends her day trying to fix her daughter’s life. Her daughter is struggling with a recent breakup and trying to make a new career work in Hollywood as a writer. Marnie drives her daughter crazy but manages to meet new people including a hunky cop played by JK Simmons. By the end of the film she has a new collection of friends who love her and is in a strong place in her life.

meddler2The Meddler definitely has groan-worthy, cheesy elements that some people will abhor. However, the cast is so winning and Sarandon is so likable I enjoyed it. She does a good job of taking the character just over the normal realm of behavior without being a cartoon like the recent My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.

There are also many sweet moments between Marnie and her daughter, Marnie and the kid who works at the Apple store, Marnie and the patient she works with volunteering at a hospital, Marnie with a lesbian couple she helps with their wedding.  They all have nice heartfelt moments that I bought.

meddler4This film reminded me a lot of I’ll See You in My Dreams from last year but not quite as sad. It also felt like the Marigold Hotel movies.  All are about older people, women usually, who are trying to find out their role and what to do with their free time. I like that stories are being told well to this demographic of moviegoers.

I also really enjoyed the scenes between Sarandon and Simmons. I kind of wish we could have gotten even more of their relationship. They had terrific chemistry and I hope we pair them up again soon.

meddler3So The Meddler doesn’t reinvent the wheel.  It’s a sweet little movie about a woman who meddles in her daughters life too much.  It’s as simple as that.  If that sounds like something you might enjoy than give it a watch. If it sounds too sappy for you than it probably is. I enjoyed it and am glad I saw it.

Overall Grade B

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I’ll See You in My Dreams Review

dreamsLast night I had a bit of time and figured why not check out a movie?  For a second I thought about seeing if Fantastic Four is ‘that bad’ but just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  I looked to see if there was anything else with actual good reviews I could see (I’m thinking about going out of my comfort zone and seeing The Gift but wasn’t ready yet).  Then I noticed at the cheap movie theater I’ll See You in My Dreams was playing.  This was a movie that I noticed at my local independent theater a few months ago and  I thought it looked good. Then I saw it had good reviews (94% on RT) so I figured let’s give it a shot and I’m glad I did.

In many ways I’ll See You in My Dreams is similar to Second Best Marigold Hotel with both featuring senior citizens trying to live vibrant lives.  They both explore themes of love, friendship, death and of course aging.  I liked the overall experience of Marigold a little bit better because it is more joyful and there are more characters to bounce off of, but I’ll See You in My Dreams definitely has better writing and characters.  So perhaps it would really depend on my mood?  Either way I’m glad movies are being made with an older audience in mind ( I would group Mr Holmes in that demographic as well for 2015 releases).

dreams2 I’ll See You in My Dreams stars Blythe Danner as a woman who has been alone for decades after her husband died in a car crash in 1994. But fortunately she has his life insurance and other income to live comfortably.  She also has a group of girlfriends played delightfully by June Squibb, Rhea Perlman and Mary Kay Place (I hope I have friends like that when I’m older!).

dreams6This is one of those movies I love that feels very ordinary.  It’s just about this woman’s life- her friends, losses, conversations etc.  It opens with a death that will make even the most hardened tear up but Carol doesn’t really absorb it or respond to it and that bothers her.  She also seems to be a bit of an alcoholic- medicating her loneliness with wine and other spirits.

dreams3She eventually is so lonely she starts up a friendship with Lloyd played by Martin Starr who cleans her pool.  This could have been groan inducing but it is actually a sweet friendship (and that’s it.  No romance!).  The dialogue in their scenes is particularly strong.  It felt almost like watching a good Broadway play.

dreams5He convinces Carol to go to the karaoke bar and sing and it turns out she has a great voice.  There is something a little bit sad about that, and it seems like she senses the missed opportunity which is her life.  (The movie really is quite tragic in a way).

There is also a lot of comedy with Carol going to a speed dating session and another hilarious segment when the cops pull the ladies over when they are a little bit tipsy from medical marijuana.

Then midway in the movie we meet Bill played by Sam Elliot.  He is a gold old boy Texan who is never without his unlit cigar.  Elliot is charming in the role but I never felt like him and Danner had much chemistry.  I didn’t buy her being attracted to someone like him.

dreams4But without spoiling it a tragedy does occur and I loved Carol’s interaction with her daughter played by Malin Akerman.  They did have chemistry and it was interesting Carol seemed disappointed with her daughter but it is never quite sure why.  Perhaps it is because she is single and never gave her any grandchildren? I’m not sure but I found the relationship compelling.

I'll See You In My DreamsIn many ways watching Carol reminded me a lot of my Grandma who is still with us but unable to carry on the kind of relationship we once had, which makes me sad.  I found myself feeling a little bit depressed at scenes because I miss talking to my Grandma and the way our friendship used to be.

I’ll See You in My Dreams is not a movie that will change your life but I liked spending 92 minutes with these people.  They felt like real people I could relate too and care about.  The dialogue was particularly strong from director and screenwriter Brett Haley.

This is coming out on blu-ray and Itunes soon so if you missed it I’d say it is definitely worth a rental.  Especially if you can get your Mom or Grandma together and have a movie night you will have a cry together and enjoy the film.

Also this may be the last movie I will see in current day where a character doesn’t have a cell phone but does have one of those old school answering machines.

Overall Grade- B

Content Grade- B

There is 1 f word, some vulgar language, drug use for humor, death of animal shown, and some sensuality mostly off screen.

Second Best Marigold Hotel Review

best-exotic-hotel-249911Lately I’ve been very careful about the 2 movies I’ve seen in the theater to make sure I went at a time when the theater would be nearly empty because of my cough.  This was true yesterday as I finally got to see The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  This is of course a sequel to the original Marigold Hotel in 2012 which introduced us to a whole bunch of great British actors who are finding a new lease on life at a hotel designed for seniors in India.

The-Second-Best-Exotic-Marigold-Hotel-Cast-WallpapersThis amazing cast includes Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Ronald Pickup, Dev Patel and more.  This sequel adds Richard Gere to the mix and he is one of the most attractive men over 60 I’ve ever seen.  We also get a far too brief appearance from the great David Strathairn.

BEST-EXOTIC-MARIGOLD-HOTELBasically the story is Maggie Smith’s Muriel Donnelly is now working with Dev Patel’s Sonny to run the hotel and they begin in America trying to court investors into financing a second venture.  Maggie Smith is so great. Sometimes I wish we could clone her so that she could be in every movie.  She turns what could be a very trite character into a real person I felt tied too.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015) - Maggie SmithShe’s someone who has no children and yet she has found a place and people where she can literally grow old and leave an impact, be remembered.  As someone who also has no children and is not married I hope I can be so lucky and find a place like the Marigold Hotel when I get older.

The rest of the movie is fairly simple.  Sonny is getting married to the stunning Sunaina played by Tina Desai who is one of the most beautiful actresses I’ve ever seen in a movie. Gorgeous.

exotic hotel3He is stressed trying to purchase a new hotel and be prepared for inspectors who Richard Gere is.

We also get a lovely little back and forth romance between Bill Nighy’s Douglas and Judi Dench’s Evelyn.  It showed that making commitments to each other is not necessarily easier just because you are older.  All the actors elevate the material and make it far more engaging than it has any right to be.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold HotelI could have done with a little less of the silly plot device of a hitman mistakenly ordered between Ronald Pickup’s Norman and Diana Hardcastle’s Carol but the way it ended was sweet and lovely.

The-Second-Best-Exotic-Marigold-Hotel-5We also get to see Celia Imrie go between 2 suitors and get to know the chauffeur on the way. And Lillete Dubey is absolutely elegant and perfect as Dev Patel’s mother who has a relationship with Richard Gere (who can blame her).exotic hotel

I could totally see why you could tear this movie apart.  Is it predictable? Yes.  Is it full of tropes and contrivances? Yes.  Is it travel porn and a completely ridiculous notion of India and growing old? I haven’t experienced either but I suspect, Yes.

Was I completely charmed by it? Yes.

Sometimes all a movie needs to do is get the right group of actors together, play characters I like, that I want to see happy and tell me a conventional story.  Every last person in this movie I liked, I was rooting for.  It’s such a contrast to a movie like The Judge which is equally contrived but full of characters I greatly disliked. Everyone was such a jerk in that movie that I turned it off.

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There’s a place for the dark and brooding characters and stories but not in a light fluffy happy movie about people growing old.  Not in a family drama like The Judge.  Another example would be The Family Stone which gave me one unlikable character after another.  It’s Christmas for goodness sakes, give me someone to root for!

So, I could see the Second Best Marigold Hotel not being your cup of tea.  But if you like pleasant, breezy stories about good people finding happiness than it may be for you.  It’s especially lovely to have a movie with so many older relationships and actors elevating material above the script.

As far as content it is pretty squeaky clean.  There are relationships outside of marriage but nothing is really shown but that’s about it on the objectionable content scale.

It’s the kind of movie I will buy on blu-ray and pop in along with the original which I already own on a bad day when I need a pick me up.  Nothing wrong with that!

Overall Grade- B  Content Grade- A+