By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
I have no idea why Austin is getting this film a week after Mother’s Day because this amusing and loving tribute to motherhood would have been a good choice for a Mother’s Day visit to the cinema. Jeers to whoever dropped the ball on that release scheduling. For those who owe their mother a trip to the movies, I would suggest The Meddler because, unlike the movie titled Mother’s Day, this film is not quite as predictable and disingenuous. Even though this movie does have its flaws, it takes a fairly realistic look at a mother/daughter relationship and is much more genuine in presenting the more emotional beats.
Widowed mother Marnie (Susan Sarandon) has way too much time on her hands and a tremendous amount of disposable income. When her daughter Lori (Rose Byrne) moves to Los Angeles, Marnie decides to follow her there in an attempt to start a new life after losing her husband. With no job and no need for one, Marnie spends most of her time bothering Lori and attempting help her, but Lori begins to feel smothered and uncomfortable with her mother’s meddling. After Lori sets some strict boundaries to their relationship, Marnie decides to help others in need of some motherly love, advice, and assistance.
Written and directed by Lorene Scafaria, The Meddler often delivers intelligent and riotous humor. There are some jokes that fall flat, but most of them work well. Scafaria’s script is sharply written full of witty and awkward comedy. The movie does have a genuine heart and has some highly lovable heartwarming moments. The movie starts off somewhat slowly and does have some awkward pacing in the first couple of acts. Nevertheless, I find the film charming and enjoyable. The entire cast delivers excellent performances with the absolutely radiant Sarandon shining brightly as the film’s endearing lead.
Sarandon’s performance is one I hope is remembered towards the end of the year when awards nominations are being selected. I can easily see her getting nominated for the Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical category at the Golden Globes. She and Rose Byrne share a natural chemistry and credibly portray mother and daughter. Byrne performs superbly as the distraught, stressed, and neurotic Lori. She has reached her wit’s end with her mother, is still coping with the loss of her father, as well as other problems in life and career. Byrne is definitely one of those talented actresses who can perform dramatic roles beautifully and can do a 180 and completely slay in comedic roles. She gets to do a little of both here. The film also stars J.K. Simmons, Jerrod Carmichael, Cecily Strong, Lucy Punch, Michael McKean, Jason Ritter, and Billy Magnussen. All perform satisfactorily in their respective roles, particularly Simmons who portrays a kinder and gentler character than usual.
So if battling superheroes doesn’t spark any interest this weekend and if parents can make a trip to the movies without the kids, I recommend checking out The Meddler. It is a sweet and funny comedy that celebrates the love of mothers, but also lovingly finds humor in some of the silly things a mother’s love can make these wonderful ladies do.