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“Grandma” – “slick and trivial”

Just came home to a beautiful sight – a video via email of my younger grandson in a blue plastic tub, kicking and splashing his little legs for dear life. For another child this wouldn’t mean anything – but for Ben, this is about strong legs attached to straight identical feet, whereas at birth, one of his feet was turned completely sideways. In less than 3 months, the medical professionals of this city have effected a miracle. He is kicking with pleasure because right after the bath, and for the next few months, his “boots and bar” have to go back on – his tiny skateboard. But after Xmas, if all goes well, he only need wear them at night. And from then on, by day, though one leg will always be a little thinner than the other, he will move normally. Praise be.

Another gift – my neighbour Gretchen left two items in my mailbox: Mavis Gallant’s “Paris Stories,” which I have long wanted to read and am ashamed I have not yet, and a Rolling Stone special about Macca, which of course I have and now have another. We can never have too many lovely pix of Sir P., can we? Hmmm? And another – Wayson came today to lend me his car to pick up the nearly 18 pound turkey and other heavy items difficult to cart home on a bicycle. Grace came to help me sort out stuff, and Arlene my student came for an editing session. Life is busy.

Much thinking about offspring and generations today, because I went to see the movie “Grandma” with my friend Suzette. We were looking forward to it – Lily Tomlin, comedy, grandmother, what’s not to like? Well, it turns out, quite a lot. Most of the reviews have been raves, which surprises me; the film misses on so many levels – cliched characters and situations, the pretence of quirky importance but actually, in true Hollywood style, selling all for laughs. Really, Lily Tomlin is a poor, angry, unpleasant lesbian with whom a stunningly beautiful woman at least 45 years younger is madly in love? Because this is often presented as a male reality for the likes of Woody Allen, though it’s utterly absurd, we’re meant to believe it for Lily? I think not. Ridiculous. Really, Lily’s daughter is a shrill workaholic who is suddenly warm, gentle and loving? Really, the granddaughter’s boyfriend is a grotesque caricature without a single redeeming feature? Wouldn’t it have been a more interesting film if he were a human being?

Anyway, disappointing – except that it’s always fun to pick apart a movie with a pro like Suzette, who’s a screenwriter and knows everything about that world. I thought of a film like the Polish “Ida,” so profoundly true and uncompromising. This is a million miles away. Too bad. As one critic, one of the very few critical critics, says:
An elderly former poet and retired academic (Lily Tomlin) takes her wheezy old 1955 Dodge out of storage and hits the road to help her pregnant granddaughter (Julia Garner) raise the money for an abortion. Writer-director Paul Weitz tries to give his movie a veneer of indie-flick honesty, but at heart it’s as slick and trivial as his American Pie (1999), and just as specious. Weitz is lucky Tomlin signed on; her prickly performances distracts us from the symphony of false notes in the script, and she makes this puny little movie worth watching (well, more or less). Tomlin is aided in this by the many star cameos (Judy Greer, John Cho, Elizabeth Peña, Sam Elliott, Marcia Gay Harden) who parade across the screen. J.L.

There’s some good writing and one really good line, when Tomlin says, “I’m glad I’m old. Young people are so stupid.” No kidding! And I guess the movie is groundbreaking because of the honest way it treats the necessity for abortion. That’s not nothing. But it’s not enough.

What matters most today, in any case, is this: GO JUSTIN GO!

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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