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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Friday, April 08, 2016

Movie Review- Ricki and the Flash

Ricki and the Flash (2015)
Starring Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Mamie Gummer, Audra McDonald, Sebastian Stan, Ben Platt, and Rick Springfield
Directed by Jonathan Demme

I wasn't expecting much from Ricki and the Flash and diminished expectations probably worked in the Jonathan Demme directed, Diablo Cody penned film's favor because, when you really dig into things, there's really not much substance in this one.  The story is incredibly simple -- aging bar room rock band singer Ricki (Meryl Streep) receives a call from her ex-husband (Kevin Kline) that their daughter Julie (Mamie Gummer) has just been left by her husband and has sunk into a horrible depression.  The California-living Ricki returns to Indiana and finds that her family harbors deep resentment for her leaving them behind, forcing Ricki to examine her past and think about changing her future.

That minimal story is nearly overtaken by what seems like eight to ten musical interludes sung by a raspy-voiced Streep whose character's acerbic tongue and edgy attitude are enjoyable.  It's not even that Streep is an awful singer -- she's fully embracing and embodying the aging rock chick persona -- it's just that the film thinks that it can build her character by having her sing U2 and Springsteen songs.  It just doesn't work that way.  In the story moments in which Ricki is dealing with her family, this film is successful, but it just doesn't have enough of them to really click completely.

It's also rather unfortunate that Ricki and the Flash delves into the realm of old people smoking pot for comedic effect which loyal readers will know is one of my least favorite cinematic tropes.  Quite frankly, there's not much I despise more in film than screenwriters stooping to a low level of having their older actors light up in an attempt to show how fun and carefree they can really be.  This alone knocks the grade down a notch or two -- please, please make this concept stop!

That said, as mentioned Streep is quite good here, taking on the comedic aspects of the flick with gusto and also proving to be perfectly believable up on a stage playing a guitar.  Her real-life daughter Mamie Gummer holds her own up against the Legend That Is Streep, but beyond the character of Ricki no one else in the film really has much to go with in terms of character development.  Everything in the flick is very "surface" and while the film is a comedy and doesn't need deep pathos, it definitely needs a little more bite and a little more story for everyone in which to sink their teeth.  As it stands now, Ricki and the Flash is decent -- and better than I could have expected -- but it left me wanting more because it has sparks of great potential that end up just amounting to ho-humness.

The RyMickey Rating:  C+

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