Many a year has passed since Paul Weitz’s screenplay and directorial debut of AMERICAN PIE (1999), and his penning, directing or producing of such memorable films as ABOUT A BOY, IN GOOD COMPANY, NICK & NORAH’s INFINITE PLAYLIST and BEING FLYNN. So it comes as no surprise that he is enticing us once again with his quirky writing and directing prowess, taking on subject matter that is deeply rooted in our AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE…with his latest endeavor ~ GRANDMA!!!

Still dealing with the loss of “the love of her life” for the past 38 years, Elle (Lily Tomlin) finds herself navigating the waters of a new relationship with the younger and beautiful Olivia (Judy Greer), which is apparently coming to an end too…

When granddaughter Sage (Julia Garner) just happens to stop by, she discloses that she is in need of her grandmother’s help, as she is pregnant, and needs a chunk of cash ~ $600 to be exact ~ for an abortion.

Torn on how to handle this “little situation”, as Elle isn’t exactly rolling in cash either, Grandma and Granddaughter set out to find someone to help them in acquiring the funding they need for the appointment already scheduled to take place…

When stop after stop to friends that Elle has lent money to in the past doesn’t pan out, Elle finds herself at the mercy of her ex-husband Karl (Sam Elliott), as she is sure that she can persuade him to help Sage in “her time of need”…or maybe not…

Forced to bring her daughter Judy (Marcia Gay Harden) into this mess, even though her granddaughter would prefer any other option, Elle is forced to face the world’s outside views on her “life style”, her granddaughter’s choice to have an abortion, and the condescension and crappy attitude her own daughter is casting in her direction too…AIN”T LIFE GRAND!!!!

I give GRANDMA a rating of CATCH THIS FILM on DVD: Even though I was extremely excited about seeing Tomlin back on THE BIG SCREEN, and playing out one of Weitz’s REAL- LIFE TALES too…Between the slow moving storyline and the subpar performances by some incredible actors, it kept me from enjoying this film as much as I has hoped I would. Tomlin plays Tomlin, but not much more, and Garner’s portrayal as the granddaughter in need comes across semi-palatable too. Harden’s performance as the judgmental daughter seems to be inconsequential, when it should be pertinent, as the storyline plays out, but Elliott’s role, although short and sweet, became the turning point for me when I thought we might finally be getting somewhere now, but then again no…we didn’t. Once again I think that so much emphasis was placed on the talent that was secured for this film, that Weitz forgot to push his “seasoned professionals” for the incredibly emotionally charged performances we have become accustomed to seeing, thus turning his new film into “nothing special” when it could have been something extraordinary. I also think Weitz missed the mark in securing a true connection with the audience in the telling this story ~ which he very easily could have done with this material ~ turning GRANDMA from a film that had so much potential going in ~ but fell short in the end ~ to a film that could have become a MUST SEE for me…

Kathy Kaiser  

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