Posts Tagged ‘Susan Sarandon’

Tammy: Improves With Age—Movie

July 7, 2014

If ever a movie was not what was expected, “Tammy” is that movie…and that is a very good thing.

Written by the husband and wife team of Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy and directed by Falcone, “Tammy’s” narrative is more heart-warming and quiet than anticipated or promoted. Essentially “Tammy” is the coming-of-age story for both the title character (Melissa McCarthy) and her grandmother, Pearl (Susan Sarandon). The movie’s beginning is the McCarthy-type movie we’ve seen in the past…loud, in-your-face, clownish…but then the character and the film begin to evolve into something else and we start to witness more of the McCarthy many of us met first as the “Gilmore Girls’” Sookie St. James.tammy-movie-poster

We are introduced to Tammy in the middle of her very bad morning. Enroute to work at Topper Jack’s, a McDonald’s-type fast food restaurant, she hits a deer. Car destroyed, Tammy eventually shows up to work a foul-mouthed, bedraggled mess. She’s promptly fired by her boss (Falcone) and upon exiting gives the kind of “farewell” many of us have only dreamed about giving to a bad employer. Tammy heads home to find her husband (Ned Faxon) having what looks to be more than a casual breakfast with their neighbor (Toni Collette). After hurling some vile insults, she packs up her belongings and heads off to her mother’s (Allison Janney) home, a few doors down the street, in the hopes of taking her car and leaving town. Her mother is not about to let that happen. However, Tammy’s diabetic, alcoholic grandmother who lives with her mother is more than willing to help out with car and money, on the condition that Tammy takes her along. And with that, they’re off, much to the horror of Tammy’s mother. Pearl has always wanted to go to Niagara Falls, so from Illinois they begin to head east. Naturally the trip doesn’t go smoothly. Along the way there are bar fights, robbery, jail time and even romance. But there’s also growth. A visit with and advice from wealthy relative Lenore (Kathy Bates) and her partner, Susanne (Sandra Oh), begins to finally sink in and perhaps there is hope for both Tammy and Pearl.

“Tammy” has an extremely talented supporting cast. Gary Cole and Mark Duplass as father and son Earl and Bobby, respectively, are very good as potential romantic interests, especially Bobby. Duplass brings a touch of normalcy and quietness to his role which meshes beautifully with Tammy’s outgoing personality. Dan Ackroyd makes a welcome return to the screen as Tammy’s father. His down to earthiness is spot-on, and it’s easy to imagine him as Tammy’s father.

Susan Sarandon handles her mean-spirited, spunky part perfectly. But she is completely miscast and that is a shame and the one big downfall of the movie. No amount of makeup, wigs or acting can convince one that she is old enough to be Tammy’s grandmother. “Nebraska’s” June Squibb would have been perfect in this role.

Melissa McCarthy has chosen to write and showcase a slightly softer side of her acting personality. While there are aspects of the characters she’s depicted in “Bridesmaids” and “Heat,” there is a difference. Brashness and pratfalls abound, but they lessen as the film progresses. McCarthy has the opportunity to show that inside Tammy’s rough exterior is a person with profound insecurities and McCarthy succeeds in spades in that portrayal. One can only hope that we get to see more of that kind of acting from her in the future.

“Tammy” is not a thigh-slapper and those expecting that kind of comedy will be disappointed. Others, however, will be pleasantly surprised, and most of all, entertained.

3 nuggets out of 4

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The Last of Robin Hood: A Huge Star Diminshed—Movie

May 1, 2014

In the last years of his life, Errol Flynn’s star had dimmed considerably. So perhaps it is only appropriate that the first film about him would seem so small.

The Last of Robin Hood” is about the final years of Flynn’s life, told primarily through the eyes of Florence Aadland (Susan Sarandon), the mother of Flynn’s last girlfriend, Beverly (Dakota Fanning). Written and directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, “The Last of Robin Hood” stars Kevin Kline in a role he was born to play—Errol Flynn. If doppelgangers do exist, than Kline is Flynn’s…no makeup and prosthetics needed.

The Last of Robin Hood

The film opens in October 1959, with Beverly flying into Los Angeles immediately after Flynn’s death at age 50 in Canada where the two had been spending time together. His death and her presence at his side brings their here-to-fore little known relationship into the forefront and the media onslaught on Beverly is horrific. The huge crowd airport crowd and screaming of questions from reporters is so bad that she faints and is rushed away. A reporter recognizes Florence in the crowd and contacts her later, hoping for a story. After some thought, Florence decides to work with him and his tape recorder begins to record.

The film then goes back in time to 1957 as we watch Beverly get ready to go to work. She’s a dancer in a Gene Kelly movie and is dressing for the trip to the studio. Her mother urges her to change her outfit to wear something that makes her look a little older. That advice seems strange at first, since isn’t the goal for a woman in Hollywood to look younger…even in the 50s? However, this scene will make sense soon after in the film. On this particular day, Errol Flynn is on the same lot as Beverly. He spots her from a distance and is immediately “smitten.” He sends Orry Kelly (Bryan Batt), a famous Hollywood costume designer, who’s in Flynn’s dressing room at the time, to ask her to meet him later. Beverly agrees to the meeting and things progress rapidly from there.

How much did Florence know about her daughter’s relationship with Flynn early on? We’ll never know precisely, and she claims innocence about knowing anything at first. But in the movie it takes her husband (Beverly’s father) all of about 30 seconds to figure out what is what. But once she does know, she does everything she can to encourage the relationship.

“The Last of Robin Hood” boasts an outstanding cast. As Errol Flynn, Kevin Kline doesn’t do an impression. He really embodies the man. As noted earlier, it’s an added bonus that he happens to look just like him. Dakota Fanning is absolutely terrific as Beverly. We know she’s underage when she first meets Flynn, but it’s to the actress’ credit that there’s an audible gasp from the audience when it’s revealed how young she is…not because she doesn’t look it, but because she’s mastered the act of seeming older. Fanning is able to play wide-eye innocent and wise-beyond her years convincingly…often within the same scene. But the scene stealer, without chewing up the scenery, is Susan Sarandon. Her Florence lives so vicariously through her daughter, it’s like watching the second coming of “Gypsy’s” Mama Rose. It all becomes understandable when we hear Florence’s extremely sad back-story.

What’s very strange about “The Last of Flynn” is that Flynn is almost an aside in his own movie. His life story is not an uninteresting one. He was a huge star whose fall from grace was in large part due to his prior relationships with young women. Perhaps someday we’ll learn more about him in a different film. For now we are left with this small movie with some very large performances.

“The Last of Robin Hood” was shown as part of Filmfest DC. It is scheduled for release later this year.

2 ½ nuggets out of 4


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