Film Review: Grandma

Grandma

Writer-director Paul Weitz’s Grandma is an entertaining inter-generational comedy. Weitz’s script makes the film an enjoyable affair.

Teenager Sage arrives at her grandmother Elle’s house in desperate need of $600. Having just gone through a break-up, Elle is unprepared for the request. The pair attempt to raise the money by visiting old friends…

Grandma works very well as a comedy with something to say. The film boasts a great script and good performances from its leads. Characters in the film are thoughtfully depicted; there is a sense of realism to them. This also applies to those with only one scene in Grandma.

Title character Elle is a big part of the reason why Grandma is such an entertaining film. She is frequently humorous, but also has important wisdom to impart. Sage is not the one-dimensional teenager she could have been. Sage works as an independent character, and in the burgeoning relationship with her grandmother.

Grandma functions as a road movie, despite the short distance travelled. Segmenting the film into chapters, with titles, works well. This is particularly rues, given the frequent references to writing and books. Feminism is discussed in an overt fashion in the film. After all, the story is about a woman’s choice, but there are layers to this in the central relationship and the protagonists’ relationships with other characters.

Paul Weitz’s direction is good. He manages to depict meaningful scenes and allow the audience to get to know the characters without the loss of pace. It is the mark of a good director that he is able to tell the story well in an 80-minute run time. The performance from Lily Tomlin is great in Grandma. Julie Garner is also shines as Sage, and Marcia Gay Harden provides good support. There are also some decent performances in some of the smaller roles, including Judy Greer as Olivia.

Grandma is a brisk and enjoyable movie which puts women and their choices at the centre.

Film Review: Little Fockers

The third instalment of the Meet the Parents franchise, Little Fockers is mildly amusing at times but fails to offer anything new. Hopefully this will be the final film in the series, despite the decent box office returns thus far.

As the fifth birthday of his twins approaches, Greg decides to moonlight for a drugs company in order to pay the bills. Greg is getting on well with his father-in-law Jack, who asks Greg to be the new head of the family. Chaos ensues, however, when Jack begins to have suspicions about Greg’s work…

Little Fockers is incredibly formulaic, rehashing the same ideas and narrative devices from the first two films. There appears to be no evolution in the relationship between Greg and Jack, as the same old dynamics come into play yet again. Characters from the first two films fulfil the same roles, never straying into new territory. Furthermore, there appears to be a rather gaping plot hole for anyone who has seen the first film. In Little Fockers Jack wants Greg to take over as head of the family. It is never mentioned that Jack has a son of his own, or why he would prefer Greg in this role rather than his own son. The omission of Jack and Dina’s son could have been referred to in the rather forgettable second instalment Meet the Fockers, but this oversight nevertheless indicates lazy writing.

Little Fockers employs the same style of humour as the first two films. Innuendo is mixed together with slapstick and crude jokes. While Meet the Parents had some great physical comedy, the set-ups in Little Fockers are mildly amusing at best, rather than hilarious.

Little Fockers features many of the same characters from the first two films. These characters fall into the same patterns as the last film; there is no sense of development. Equally, none of the actors are stretched in Little Fockers. Robert De Niro phones in his performance; it is rather sad to see him parodying a role that brought him great acclaim with the ‘GodFocker’ nonsense. Owen Wilson’s Kevin was one of the funniest characters in Meet the Parents, but a poor script lets down an enthusiastic performance in this episode.

Little Fockers introduces a few new minor characters. Paul Weitz’s film has a stellar cast featuring De Niro, Dustin Hoffman and Harvey Keitel. Yet Keitel and Laura Dern are underused, while Jessica Alba is at times awful as drug rep Andi.

Little Fockers is a rather tired and unimaginative movie. The promise of the all-star cast is ultimately let down by a lacklustre script that does not deliver.