DISCLAIMER: Sorry about the tiny movie poster image up top. I couldn’t find a good banner or even a decent poster so… THE INTERNET FAILED ME!!!
I took one look at the poster for this movie and remembered the bad taste in my mouth that was TAMMY, the last Susan Sarandon film I saw. But then I saw the trailer and it actually looked pretty decent. Complemented by Rose Byrne and J.K. Simmons, it was shaping up to be pretty good. Deciding that I didn’t want to wait to see this movie until next Monday, I decided to see it at another movie theatre that was showing it, making it the first review of the new week. This is my honest opinion of THE MEDDLER.
The story follows Marnie (Susan Sarandon), whom just a year ago, her husband died. Neither she, nor her daughter, Lori (Rose Byrne), has taken the loss very well. Lori also ended her relationship with an actor named Jacob (Jason Ritter) and sort of just mopes all day. Marnie on the other hand decides to involve herself a little too much in Lori’s life, which causes Lori to be annoyed. Leaving to go film a television pilot, Marnie has to stay behind and figure out how to live her life. She does this by planning and paying for a wedding for a friend, driving a young man to school, and possibly developing feelings for a retired police officer named Zipper (J.K. Simmons).
First off, Marnie almost annoyed me. As a character, we know she’s only meddling in everyone’s business because she has a void left by her late husband, wanting to be needed and all that. Through careful writing, yeah, she’s annoying, but not in a way that makes us dislike her, but understand when Lori says that there needs to be boundaries. Sarandon does a fantastic job of bringing vulnerability to this character. Any time a man flirts with her, she freaks out and hightails it out of there like a bunny running away from a fox. She wants to move on, but she’s too scared to.We never lose sight of her sadness, but she’s still enjoyable enough to watch on screen as she gets into these shenanigans.
That same careful writing also applies to Lori. She has about the same amount of problems as her mother, having lost both her father and divorced her husband. However, unlike Marnie, Lori is actually making active efforts to moving on by focusing on her writing and committing to her new TV show. It’s kind of an interest contrast in character compared to Marnie because while Marnie is not making any real effort to move on, she’s at least always happy or trying to show it. Lori on the other hand, while making more of an effort to move on is significantly less happy. Somehow, these two emotional powerhouses always clash in the most offbeat sort of way, but that translates to some pretty well-acted scenes. Yeah, Sarandon and Byrne have great chemistry and their scenes are probably the best in the movie.
And is it just me, or does Simmons look and sound eerily similar to Sam Elliot? I mean look at the guy! Southern accent, deep voice, manly mustache, you cannot convince me that wasn’t by design! I’m not complaining, but… damn, what a doppelganger.
But now it’s time to start listing my problems with the film… which, there are a few.
I know that this movie hinges on it’s one joke that Marnie is a meddler and has to be involved in everyone’s affairs, but… seriously, no one says no to her? For example, you have this woman who wants to have a real wedding with her wife. But her dream wedding costs like $15,000 and Marnie offers. What gets me is that this woman agrees to it. For all intents and purposes, Marnie is a stranger to this woman. Sure, they may know each other by association, but that’s not a strong enough to reason to blindly accept a stranger’s offer. Another example is this Apple store employee, Freddy, played by Jerrod Carmichael. His relationship to Marnie is basically just that: he helped her buy an Iphone, they meet a second time when she has questions about the phone, and then he tells her he’s taking night classes, and she offers to take him to school… to which he accepts, despite that fact that he is perfectly fine with taking the bus. Okay, this movie really takes me out of reality here. I work in a movie theatre. I see regulars. But even if I was really chummy with a guest, I would never accept a ride to work if they offered. We are not friends. I am an employee, this person is a stranger. Always. I don’t know this person. Freddy doesn’t know Marnie! She’s essentially a stranger! How do so many people accept her really outlandish offers?? No one does this!
Another issue that I took is that Marnie doesn’t really learn her lesson by the end of the movie. Okay, she learns to move on from her husband’s death by accepting to be in a relationship with Zipper, but she’s still kind of annoying, leaving long-ass voice mails on Lori’s phone, you’d think she’d pull back on the reigns a bit.
And I don’t know why, but there is this one sequence that I just can’t forgive in this movie. There’s a scene where Marnie eats marijuana. Why? A cop blares his alarms when she’s parked next to the sidewalk and instead of thinking like a rational human being, like hiding it in her glove compartment, or that little space on the side of her car door, or in the pocket of the back of her seat, the writers needed a scene with Sarandon being high, so that just had to make her eat it. There were a thousand things they could have done and they went for the lowest common denominator. Fuckin’ weak excuse for comedy, which wasn’t that funny anyway.
Look, as many things as I had to complain about, the movie isn’t bad at all. Honestly, Sarandon and Byrne’s performances really hold up the movie. Marnie is an endearing character that can be easily sympathized with and we want her to find happiness after her husband’s death. She may get annoying sometimes, but it’s always done with the best of intentions, so it’s hard to dislike her completely. I think if you’re a fan of the cast, I could recommend this film to you and you’d enjoy it enough. There’s enough heart to make it worthwhile. I enjoyed the movie, and I’m glad I saw it, but I don’t think I’ll make an effort to see it twice. The problems I had with it deter me from fully feeling a passion to see it again.
My honest rating: a strong 3/5
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