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
"Ricki and the Flash" (2015 release; 101 min.) brings the story of Ricki (played by Meryl Streep), an aging cover band singer-guitarist. As the movie opens, we find ourselves in the Tarzana (LA) neighborhood bar The Salt Well, where Ricki and her mates are bringing us Tom Petty's "American Girl". The next day we see her at work as a cashier in a local grocery store. Ricki gets a call from her ex (played by Kevin Kline) in Indianapolis, who informs her that their daughter Julie (played by Mamie Gummer) is depressed as a result of her failing marriage. Ricki immediately flies out to Indy to comfort her daughter. At this point we're not even 15 minutes into the movie, but to tell you more would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: the movie is directed by noted rock documentarian Jonathan Demme (Stop Making Sense; several Neil Young docs). Here he finds himself in familiar territory. The script is courtesy of Diabolo Cody (Juno, Young Adult). I have to tell you that I was surprised how utterly predictable the entire story line is in "Ricki and the Flash", I mean, not a single surprise or other deviation from a straight-forward path. I had expected more from Cody. Demme tries the best with the rather weak material. What should've been real tension between Streep's character and her kids, comes off pretty weak. The best line comes deep in the movie when her ex comments: "It's not the kids' job to love you, it's your job to love them!" So true. The one and only reason to watch this film is of course the timeless Meryl Streep, who easily looks about 15-20 years younger than her actual age (66, if you can believe it). Gummer (in the role of Julie) is Streep's real life daughter but you could easily mistake them for sisters. The movie's shooting was delayed so as to give Streep enough time to learn the guitar (Streep wouldn't have it any other way!). There are some nice side performances as well, none more so than Rick Springfield as her band made and romantic interest Greg. Kevin Kline as the ex is quite good too. The music plays a big role in the movie obviously, and in the end credits it is noted that the live music is performed by Rick and the Flash. Along the way, we get covers of Lady Gaga's Bad Romance, U2's I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, and many others. Bottom line: "Ricki and the Flash" is an okay but ultimately uneven and forgettable movie that stars one of the best actresses this country has ever seen. There is a reason why this movie only has a 59 on Rotten Tomatoes...
The movie opened nationwide this weekend. Despite my misgivings for this film, I ended going to see this right away. The matinée screening where I saw this at here in Cincinnati was very nicely attended actually. If you like movies with a heavy emphasis on bar music, or are simply a fan of Meryl Streep, I encourage you to check out "Ricki and the Flash", be it in the theater, on VOD or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray.
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