Saturday, August 8, 2015

Ricky and the Flash

Plot: Ricky (Meryl Streep) is 60-year old rock singer who plays in bar band with her boy friend Greg (Rick Springfield), and she works a day job as a grocery checker. She has three grown kids in Indiana. Her daughter Julie (Mamie Gummer) attempts suicide after she gets dumped by her husband. Ricky's ex-husband Pete (Kevin Kline) tells Ricky to come back to help Julie, and she does. Lots of family drama ensues with tough conversations with each kid, Pete, and Pete's new wife Maureen (Audra McDonald). Ricky goes back to California, and plays some music, and then decides to come back for her son's wedding. After more family drama, it all ends Bollywood-style with line dancing to Ricky's pop rock music. [imdb]    [photos]

Review: This is an art movie built around the final wedding scene where the long-lost Mom shows up at the wedding reception, and everyone recognizes how she lived a worthwhile life too -- also how cool she is.

If you come to the movie looking for a light comedy, a rock 'n' roll biopic, or a musical you will be disappointed. This is a artsy, dark comedy where dark means absurdly funny not haha funny.

The film plays with the contrast between the artist's lifestyle in California, and an upper-class professional lifestyle in the Midwest. (The Midwest being a symbol for not creative or enlightened.) The dialog scenes move quickly, and they are the point of the story.

The musical portions have a function in the story and are not simply performances, however, the music scenes are hit-and-miss when judged as music. Meryl gets a few songs right, and a few made me want to take a nap. She has a good voice. I wished there was less music and more dramatic action. Meryl always looks like she is having fun.

There were several good scenes. I liked the scene when Meryl rants to her bar room audience about how women rockers are considered bad mothers but male rockers are never judged as fathers. Another great scene is with Audra McDonald playing Pete's new wife. It was classy cat-fight with great dialog.

This movie could have benefit from a few sad scenes. We scarcely see regret from Ricky, and everyone feels regret about paths not taken. Ricky has had a sad life, but it is spun as happy & free rather than bittersweet. 

Cast: Meryl Streep, Mamie Gummer (Meryl's real life daughter), Rick Springfield, Kevin Kline

Directed by: Jonathan Demme

Written by: Diablo Cody

The Music: Not embarrassing. Generally serviceable. Too many songs.

Rating: 2.5 stars:.

More: They did not edit out the joke about gay marriage being illegal. The news moves faster than the movies.

Even More: Meryl's acting method gets deep into her characters even off camera, so acting against her daughter was probably interesting.

Yet More: I am getting tired of gay children coming out in every movie, and then after 20 minutes everyone is so accepting. How many movies has that happened in?