Grandma (2015)

December 6th, 2015
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir. Paul Weitz

Cast: Lili Tomlin, Julia Garner, Marcia Gay Harden, Judy Greer, Sam Elliott

USA 2015, 79 min.

Serious themes of abortion and lesbianism are tossed around playfully in this derivative Hollywood Screwball comedy. Paul Weitz (ABOUT A BOY)  trivialises a family’s conflicts, falling far short of Hawks or Cukor.

Elle (Tomlin), college lecturer and poet, has just split up with her much younger girlfriend Olivia (Greer), on the rebound from her longterm partner, Violet, who has recently died. Blaming Olivia (unjustly) for the split, Elle is in a foul mood, when her grand daughter Sage (Garner) appears in her flat, wanting money for an abortion. Elle, having just cut up all her credit cards, using the snippets for a creative mobile, tries in vain to borrow money from Karl (Elliott), an ex-boyfriend; the two women trying to avoid to involving Sage’s mum, the straightforward business executive Judy (Harden), who lives exclusively in the real world, and is equally exasperated by her ‘fly by night’ daughter and mother.

GRANDMA is a vehicle for Lili Tomlin to show off her considerable acting skills. Dominating the film, the cast are merely punchbags for her anger. There are some impressive scenes, like the one in front of the abortion clinic, where a vicious Pro-life lobbyist uses a little girl to argue her point; but mainly it is all about the frustrated Elle, having failed as a poet and is now lonely in old age. Worst of all is Weitz’ banal approach in trying to milk really serious situations for cheap laughter. Whilst Tomlin has a field day, the same cannot be said for the audience. AS


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