Classic rock, Meryl Streep, yes please! Overly sentimental film…no thanks. This feel-good movie has Meryl Streep portraying a middle-aged obscure musician, Ricki Rendazzo, who abandoned her children to pursue her career. Years later, her life takes a drastic turn when she receives a phone call from her ex-husband that her daughter has fell into a deep depression after her marriage has failed. She hesitantly leaves her artistic life in California to rescue her daughter using her charismatic ways.
Cinematics (Plot, Acting, Cinematography, etc.) – 3
Starting with the unappealing trailers for the “Ricki and the Flash,” the storyline does not live up to the caliber of the actors and actresses. It begins with a somber outlook for the mediocre musician who has left her family behind in rural Indiana. However, midway through the movie Streep’s character has an epiphany that her passion for music has hindered her from realizing that she has forgotten her passion for love. In a turn of events, she switches from a self-absorbed artist to a loving mother and girlfriend. The takeaway message is that this movie will make you feel good if you ever known a person who didn’t give a shit and then decided to give a shit. Not the best concept.
What can I say about the acting? The script doesn’t give much room for Oscar-winning performances, but that never prevents Streep or Kline from giving us perfection. Dismiss what you may know about Streep in her other musical roles such as “Mamma Mia” and “Into The Woods,” and look into this role as a distraught, enigmatic woman who happens to sing. Streep demonstrates to the audience that she can pull off any role, including this one. Her character’s emotional turmoil is exposed for all to see. While Kline’s character is more stagnant, he gives us vulnerability and tension. It is obvious from his gestures that he is uncertain of his emotions for Ricki, and may never fully recover from her leaving him estranged. I particularly enjoyed moments of silence between Streep and Kline that best portrayed their relationship and past feelings such as Kline’s character lying his head in her lap.
What many people are wanting to know is how Mamie Gummer (Streep’s daughter) does in her role as the alienated, mercurial daughter of Ricki. In my opinion, like the other actresses and actors in this film, she does the best with what she is given. She balances angst and hatred, while showing that there is an open door of love for her biological mother. In one scene she resists going out with her mother to get her hair and nails done, but turns out having a more therapeutic experience than her personal counselor could give her.
Perhaps, what also might have saved “Ricki and the Flash” from being a total flop is that in the beginning of the movie the cinematography resembles an artistic documentary where the camera bounces from person to person with a realistic touch on the artists’ performances. The music alone can take you down a nostalgic rock n’ roll journey that makes you feel like you are watching a live performance. However, those artistic camera shots and angles dissipate once Ricki arrives in Indiana to be with her family. It is then that I realize that the artistic value switches to something more like the quality generic romantic-movie. In other words–unoriginal.
Entertainment Value – 2
I found no more entertainment value in this film than something like “Juno” or “500 Days of Summer.” If you’re unfamiliar with those films, I’m trying to express that there are good characters and great performances that give you what you want, but the plot falls a bit short.
However, I did enjoy the music. Streep’s performance as a musician is almost as good as her pure acting roles. She also demonstrates that she is a multifarious actress by learning how to play the guitar for the film, and you can’t even tell that she’s a novice. I could easily bop my head to her versions of Fleetwood Mac, Uncle Cracker, and even Lady Gaga. It helps that her co-star, legendary musician Rick Springfield, is by her side rocking out. If nothing else appeals to you about this film, I highly recommend going just for the musical renditions.
Rewatchability – 3
Ricki reunites with her children, finds her true love, and, to top it off, rocks the wedding with a tribute to her son. Puke! But despite my earlier comments about the plot being mawkish, the film definitely has rewatchability because it emulates the feel-good movie that the public craves. For those days when you’re just not sure how much someone cares about you, you can pop in this movie and watch Streep’s character transform and evolve into a caring individual.
- Entertainment Value
Overall, I felt that the movie had potential but subjected to a cheap storyline that leaves the audience wondering why they didn’t mold this movie into a more dynamic film. I also was anticipating Gummer to have a more significant and diverse role, but the storyline changed from the focus on her and Ricki’s relationship to a universal love tale. I can’t complain though because Streep still superbly delivers. As Cam from “Modern Family” states “Meryl Streep could play Batman, and be the right choice. She is perfection.”
This movie may not be everything you expect it to be, but the performances outshine the banal storyline.