Cast includes: Lily Tomlin (Nine to Five), Julia Garner (The Perks of Being a Wallflower), Marcia Gay Harden (Mystic River), Judy Greer (Jurassic World), Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black), Sam Elliot (Up in the Air)
Writer/Director: Paul Weitz (About a Boy, Being Flynn)
Genre: Comedy | Drama (79 minutes)
Chapter 1… “You’re a terrible girlfriend,” screams Elle. “You’re a wonderful poet,” answers Olivia. When Olivia talks about love, Elle is dismissive… “Love doesn’t conquer everything.” What really hurts is that Elle pronounces Olivia, “a footnote.” The breakup is noisy, and Elle is fiercely defiant. But defiance melts when Elle’s finally alone. She seeks comfort in her memories… mostly of her 38-year partner, Violet. When her granddaughter Sage knocks on the door, she finds Grandma unusually maudlin. “I need $630… I’m pregnant,” Sage announces. “Does your mom know?” “She’d strangle me.” “You’ve put some thought into it? You know you’ll carry this with you for the rest of your life?” Sage answer, yes and yes. The problem is that Grandma only has $43 right now. She did have some money, but she decided to get out of debt and cut up her credit cards. Ouch.
Anyway, Sage’s appointment for the abortion is at 5:45 today. Next chapter… helping Sage find the money. Elle takes the cover off Violet’s 1955 Dodge Royal, and the two of them hit the road. Over coffee… “shitty coffee”… the two strategize. “I’m going to have to ask you to leave,” says Chau, the owner of the upscale coffee house. Elle’s loud conversation about female issues is bad for business. “Who’s the guy?” Grandma wants to know. It’s her boyfriend, but Sage doesn’t want to get him involved. “This is his problem, too, you know?” Grandma’s making Sage uncomfortable. “I assume there was a penis involved.” “Grandma!” The boyfriend scene isn’t pretty, but they do come away with some cash… not enough, though. They’re going to have to go the distance, geographically and emotionally, to cobble together the whole $630.
As chapters go by, we see Grandma’s unflinching commitment to Sage. It’s not just about the money and Sage’s predicament… there’s grandmotherly wisdom… the early feminist kind, often about what’s important in life… and what isn’t. There are many reasons why this film works, but the most important is that the roll of Elle was written especially for Lily Tomlin, and her performance is spot on. She’s in almost every scene and her offbeat but perceptive views are usually expressed with humor. We keep finding ourselves thinking, “so true, so true.” The pursuit of funds starts with the easy marks and gets to progressively tougher challenges, as the pair take us on a Los Angeles tour. Of course, Sage’s mom (Elle’s daughter) is the toughest challenge of all. “I’m scared,” says Sage. “Scared! You and me both,” answers Elle. Elle’s former husband is the one who possibly has the best line for summing up life… “I find as I get old, shit just bubbles up.” As wise as Grandma is, it turns out she has shit that’s bubbled up… and working through it is part of the journey.
4 popped kernels
Teenager turns to her grandma to help her get an abortion
Rated: R (Language, Sexual Content)
Gender Style: Neutral
Distribution: Mainstream Limited Release
Tempo: Cruises Comfortably
Visual Style: Nicely Varnished Realism Gorilla Video
Nutshell: Lesbian feminist grandma
Language: True to life & Artful