“Grandma” is a fun, witty, compact study of an eccentric headstrong woman and her unique relationships with her family and her lovers. A life-changing incident causes her teenage granddaughter to make a rare visit in order to ask the only person she feels she can trust to help with a dilemma without judgment: her grandma. Of course, grandma happens to be a very eccentric poet. Said incident serves as a catalyst to bring three generations of tough, strong, stubborn and independent women together. In working to solve a complex and emotionally charged problem, an unconventional grandma and rebellious granddaughter enter a colorful maze of human interaction.

Lily Tomlin is superb in this very well written and beautifully directed story. She is authentically fearless, brash and full of vitriol. There is great significance regarding the evolution of the entertainment industry that Tomlin, in her 70’s, is starring in this wonderful film and in the Netflix series “Grace and Frankie.”

As the granddaughter, Julia Garner glows. She is totally comfortable opposite the powerful performance of Tomlin. Marcia Gay Harden is a perfect fit for the mother. The granddaughter’s emotionally distant relationship with her mother mirrors that of her grandmother with her own daughter. Judy Greer shows great sensitivity as the lover. It’s good to see her in a role that stretches her great depth as an actress. Sam Elliott also delivers a nuanced performance as a long-ago dumped flame.

Director Paul Weitz wrote and directed this story. It flows without losing rhythm, and shows us that comedy and tragedy come from the same home base. The characters each have a unique and authentic voice driven from their hearts and their generational identities. Weitz said in the Q&A after the screening that he likes to get out of the way of his actors and be inspired by their work. He noted that this film was made on a much lower budget than other films he’s made. However, with this story the budget constraint was a positive influence. The result was a more intimate and realistic film style.

This is another story, as in the currently running film “Ricki and the Flash,” that shows us different generations are much more similar than they appear on the surface. This is a story about two people who don’t conform and don’t necessarily behave, because they don’t feel the need to “fit in”. They’re just too “outside the box”. Many of us can identify with that. The capers of these women as they try to use the social structure they have jettisoned consistently through their lives, generate the hilarity and warm hearted craziness of a modern-day “Three Stooges” movie.

Rated R

Run time: 79 minutes

Kathryn Whitney Boole was drawn into the entertainment industry as a kid and never left. It has been the backdrop for many awesome adventures with crazy creative people. She now works as a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. kwboole@gmail.com

For previously published reviews see https://kwboole.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

 

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