The Meddler

image** (out of five)

Lorene Scafaria’s portrait of a middle-aged woman and her adult daughter a year after mom’s husband has passed away may be autobiographical (with Scafaria being the daughter), or at least inspired by Scafaria’s true story, but it’s nevertheless riddled with cliché and trite situations that are very difficult to swallow.

Susan Sarandon plays the mom, and Rose Byrne plays the daughter, and they’re the two reasons to see the movie. They’re both great and the scenes they share are emotionally connected and true (there aren’t enough of them, unfortunately, but that’s the essential nature of the story – the mom has to learn to live outside of her daughter’s pocket). But Oscar winner J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) looks strained and embarrassed – hiding behind a bushy mustache – as a stereotypically too-good-to-be-true love interest for Sarandon; their sub-plot is treacly, ludicrous and cringe-worthy. Wait’ll you hear the 70s hit that wells up over their big moment; it’s unintentionally hilarious.

I’m not the demographic target for this film and I suspect, among that demographic, it’s going to be a big hit. The cinema I was in had about eighty patrons and I’m sure seventy-eight of them were women Sarandon’s age or older. They are a seriously powerful and cashed-up segment of movie-goers. They deserve better than the same old hash.

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