Some films play the eccentricity card too much in their attempts to be "different", and from the moment you meet Shirley MacLaine's Grandma Millicent Mirabeau, you will find yourself torn between whether or not you like her or find her a total pain in the butt. This wacky woman is her attempt to be Auntie Mame, but she actually comes closer to Roz Russell's absurd mother in "Oh, Dad, Poor Dad...". Whether locking herself in a dressing room over the fact that a sale on a VCR ended (and asking her granddaughter for toilet paper!) or constantly berating her grieving widowed son for neglecting his three daughters, MacLaine takes every single eccentric character she's ever played and pulls an Emeril ("Takin' it up a notch!") to create the first on-screen granny that needs a "time out". Yes, this grandmother can certainly say she lives life to the fullest, using clichés like "Two tacos short of a combination plate" and "You live, and then you die" to express her independent view of life. She's got a flashy wardrobe, isn't afraid to express every element of her soul to the girls she is raising, yet somehow seems more over-medicated than just "feisty". And yet, in spite of that, you can't take your eyes off of her, as if MacLaine was being possessed by the spirits of Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Tallulah Bankhead or any other eccentric actress that had passed before her. If MacLaine's character does anything, it is the fact that she exposes what the new generation gap has become. Today's youth (besides taking themselves and life too seriously) are afraid of living to the fullest, walking in their own paths and trying new things in fear of rejection of a technology obsessed society. It shows that the rules have switched to where the young are seeming older than their youthful ages, while the older folks are simply marching to their own drumbeat as if their evian bottles contained champagne rather than water. Take MacLaine's three granddaughters, all named after states (with the exception of the state of confusion), all neurotic beyond reasonable belief. Oldest granddaughter Julia Stiles lives with a man that seems perfect for her, yet they are only friends, and he is unapologetically heterosexual. (Apparently cool enough to grab two "Cleaning Queens of West Hollywood" to take care of an after Christmas dinner mess). Middle granddaughter Azura Skye is pregnant but in denial of who the father is, while youngest Mika Boorem is obsessed with the lottery and dresses up provocatively to try to appear over 18 in order to buy a ticket. Needy messes all, they defy likability in spite of loving their grandmother and just cause head-scratching when trying to find one quality to even care about these character's lives. Ultimately, there seems to be little point here other than showing the comedy of the absurd that reveals little warmth about identifying with a new generation in the "Me!" era. Alessandro Nivola is charming as Stiles' roommate, and Edward Atterton has no real purpose in being there as the British date whom Stiles considers like an Italian suit she has no place to wear it to. Then, Jennifer Coolidge, as MacLaine's much younger Madame sister, comes in, serving no purpose other than to add more unappealing eccentricity into the convoluted mix. Randy Quaid is poorly treated as the troubled son/father who gets bashed every time he shows up. No wonder he only comes around to drop off his newest offspring. So in retrospect, this is a depressing view of family with comic and tragic elements, on the other side of the railroad tracks where they obviously rode in on the Bi-Polar Express.
Comedy / Drama / Romance
Comedy / Drama / Romance
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A young woman escapes her wildly eccentric family in search for a life of normalcy.
November 17, 2021