That was an excellent one.
How sad is this?
Simple and well acted, it has tension enough to knot the stomach.
By the time the dramatic fireworks start popping off, each one feels earned.
In the opening scenes of this financially challenged flick "Grandma" under the direction of Paul Weitz, I swore I was going to show my disdain for it. But after a while, I started to progressively get into it as the characters kind of became easy to relate with as their stories drew its attention to its audiences making it all the more easier to watch. It's a rare finding to see a film where the film is sinking in expectations in the beginning only to emerge later on the film, but "Grandma" is one of those exceptions. Lily Tomlin is the leading performer as Elle Reid, a cynical smarmy, foul-mouthed lesbian poet, who before the film starts has just broken up with her girlfriend (Judy Greer) after courting for four months. In an attempt to vent out her frustration, she regards her lover as nothing more than a footnote. Shortly after this messy breakup, she gets a visit from Sage (Julia Garner), her granddaughter who needs some much needed cash to go with her abortion but is too afraid to ask her intimidating mother Judy (the always incredible and fearful Marcia Gay Harden). Elle is also low on dough, but still takes Sage along for a rough and wild ride to get some old allies to see if they could conjure up a few bucks that they owe her.The opening scenes were quite eye-catching, but the early scenes were placed as just an excuse to have Tomlin's Elle to churn out the laughs by embarrassing Sage in one situation after the next. They visit a coffee shop that was once a clinic for women facing similar problems as Sage's and sure enough Elle causes a scene by loudly exploiting the high costs of abortions which leads Elle get into a verbal sparring match with an unfortunate worker named Chau (John Cho). They visit the diner where her ex Olivia works, which results in a myriad of childish verbal abuse and condescending insults. They come to a tattoo parlour and the tattoo artist (Laverne Cox) isn't strong in her finances, but offers Elle a new tattoo. Tomlin is truly a great legend in comedy that traces back to the 1960's, but sadly here she seems reduced to just playing the type-cast sassy grandma.It's just that we've seen this way too many times in movies where old-timers get involved in awkward situations and are doing it just to get a laugh from their audience. And to make it more appalling they force the comedy down our throats with that awful pizzicato scores in the background.By the time Elle gets to visit one of her rare relationships with her ex-husband Karl (Sam Elliott), whom she was estranged with for 30 years before discovering that her true affection is with women, this movie starts to pick up. To see her go so far as to visit the man she kept herself apart for so long clearly points out she's low on options to get money while reminiscing awful memories about their troubled past.Even though his role is very brief, Elliott truly brings out the best in his performance and truly shows that less could mean more Elliott brings a lot of depth, emotional pain and nuance to his role he is the character that garners the most sympathy from. After all the superficial and forceful humour depicted here, Elliott turns the table with a more real and raw turn that has a dramatic edge to the film. Elle starts to change on me as we see her transform from a sitcom like geriatric to a more humane character we could all relate to. Even when the film returns to the madcap silliness, I have become more invested in her character. Sure abortion is a subject matter that is very sensitive to grasp at, it will surely spark divinity in how this situation is handled. One thing for sure, Sage is not going to change her mind about going through this difficult procedure. What makes this film so unique is that every character has a differing opinion of this heavy-handed subject matter, but it's handled in a mature perspective, even if the comical elements tell you otherwise.There are no villains in how one feels about abortion which is refreshing in itself. The other trait that makes this film unique is that it goes along with Sage's decision without being judgmental even though the baggage she carries with her is something she'll have to deal with.The midway comeback in this movie isn't strong on unpredictability. The closing scenes are cliched with sentimental vibes and moral lessons we would expect from a standard comedy-drama. However, the emotions will surely tug at your heartstrings and hope that all ends well for the characters in the film once it ends. It's truly a film one could treasure and feel good about after watching it.
This was a sad use of good acting. Although Lily Tomlin delivers brilliant acting with excellent character development, there's nothing else to this film. It's rather boring, over all with not much to the story line, there's minimal plot, at best. What's really disappointing is that IMDb listed this ad a comedy first. I'm not sure why it's listed as a comedy at all, it's in no way humorous.
Making a film funny is like balancing an egg on your chin. It takes skill, good judgement and a knack for balance. Making a comedy without making light of its hefty themes is like balancing that egg whilst doing a tightrope walk. It takes people of rare talent to pull it off, or at the very least, to avoid plummeting to a miserable end (here's looking at you never-to-be-made Reagan movie). But with considerable skill, Paul Weitz manages to make Grandma into a quintessential dramedy, full of amusing moments, hilarious quips and a beautiful family relationship.I wonder if I'd have bothered with this movie if I didn't have an obsession with The West Wing and therefore have heard of Lily Tomlin. I'm glad I did, because Tomlin gives the best lead actress performance of 2015 as the gruff, cantankerous and blunt widowed retiree poet Elle. She revels in her hippy lifestyle, but never becomes a caricature. Her levels of self-consciousness about her desire to prove something herself makes her more human and therefore more relatable. In the dramatic moments, Elle's rarely seen emotions break free just enough to convey the adult nature of the problem and shake our faith in the assurance that "grandma will fix everything".Equally wonderful is Julia Garner as Elle's granddaughter Sage, whose lapse of judgement led to her pregnancy. Sage could easily have become a plot device to be towed along by Tomlin and the script, but thanks to Garner, she displays levels of vulnerability that make us long to help and console her. That isn't to say she's a weak female character - she's just a real human being.The film plays in a series of chapters, each dealing with Elle and Sage's attempt to wheedle enough money together for an abortion. As the film progresses through a series of cameos from talented actors, the show is stolen by Sam Elliott, who gives a performance at the complete opposite end of the spectrum from his performance in 2015's I'll See You in My Dreams. There is real hurt in his eyes when he speaks about abortion and it is not only believable, but feasible, that he carried his pain through at least three subsequent wives and five children. Unfortunately, Elliott's chemistry with Tomlin isn't nearly as magical as his chemistry with Blythe Danner, but the scene still has effectiveness because of him. Also wonderful is Marcia Gay Harden as Elle's daughter/Sage's mother, a highly stressed and frenetic office worker. She works very well with Garner, and although not as well with Tomlin the great writing makes up for it.Paul Weitz's screenplay is to be credited with the wonderful balance and surprisingly high entertainment factor. The humour is perfectly done, with the exception of a silly slapstick confrontation outside the abortion clinic. The film's editors also know that the film didn't need to exceed 80 minutes, and as such the finished product is accessible and enjoyable. A great film about women, but one that has no judgement to pass on the issue of abortion.
Hard to finish the movie when you hate the main character. Don't get me wrong. I think Lily Tomlin is a great actress and would like to see her in much more movies but awful sentences can make even excellent actor sound unnatural and amateurish. Add to those awful sentences bunch of overused indie movie clichés (like transsexual hairdresser, cool lesbian grandmother etc.) and fair dose of unmotivated screaming (guess for creating comical moments when there is none) you get recipe for disaster. I behaved like a hipster few years ago and had way to much compassion for all sort of indie or European hyped movies and tried to "understand" them or blame myself for not liking them (I thought I missed some greatness or am not educated enough) but no more. I don't like this movie. Sorry