A woman named Linda leaves her family to pursue her dream of being a rock star. And she hasn't achieved the notoriety she hoped for. Her ex-husband calls her to tell her that her daughter suffered a breakdown because her husband left her. She goes back to Indianapolis. But her daughter doesn't exactly welcome her with open arms. But she stays and tries. And her sons also don't welcome her warmly. Written by
'Flash' in the pan: nothing about Ricki or her world rings true...
Potentially delicious teaming of director Jonathan Demme and screenwriter Diablo Cody with star Meryl Streep results in a surprising washout. Middle-aged bar band singer takes time off from her day-job as a cashier in southern California and returns to Indianapolis and the (now embittered) family she left behind for rock 'n roll success. Cody's writing is so facetious and 'cute' (always with a wink to the audience) that her script--already heavy with amateurish exposition--defeats the cast early on; before we can even adjust to the characters, they've been shaped by their clothes and their quips. Demme is eager to please, but his timing is perpetually off. Scenes that should work don't, while other sequences (such as a family reunion dinner that turns ugly) ramble on without a point. Ricki's family all take turns standing on a soapbox, blowing off steam. Cody can't introduce anyone to us without there being an agenda, and Demme underlines her every superficial point with close-ups that don't reveal anything (reality TV has more convincing confrontations than what we get here). Eternally misjudged and misshapen. We have no idea what Ricki has gone through in her career, what triumphs she may have had; Cody is too intent on giving us Streep as a Republican rocker (another clothesline to string conflicts on), backed by a troupe of musicians who are only there to hug her. The actress is clearly better than her material and fakes her way through. *1/2 from ****
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