The Meddler full movie review - Susan Sarandon mothers it up again (and maybe better than ever) in "The Meddler".
Susan Sarandon is a real mother ? in more ways than one. Besides being the mother of actress Eva Amurri (and sons Jack Henry and Miles Guthrie), she has played many moms on screen.
Of course, successful actresses of a certain age often make their living from such roles (Meryl Streep, for example), but Sarandon seems to have stepped up her acceptance of motherhood roles in recent years. Her one Oscar-winning role was for playing a sister (as in, a nun, in 1995's "Dead Man Walking"), but just since then, she has played a mother in (just to name a few): "Stepmom" (1998), "Anywhere But Here" (1999), "Shall We Dance" (2004), "Elizabethtown" (2005), "Mr. Woodcock" (2007), "The Lovely Bones" (2009), "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" (2010), "Arbitrage" (2012), "The Big Wedding" (2013), "Mothers and Daughters" (2016), on TV shows and, in possibly her best mom role yet, "The Meddler" (PG-13, 1:40).
Marnie Minervini (Sarandon) is lonely and bored. She and her husband moved from New York to L.A. when their screenwriter daughter, Lori (Rose Byrne), did just a few years before. Since then, Marnie's husband died, leaving her enough money that she doesn't have to work. Marnie constantly calls, texts and drops by to see Lori. When Lori suggests that her mother get a hobby, Marnie cheerily responds, "You could be my hobby!" Marnie is loving, charming and means well, but she definitely is a meddler.
Besides having trouble filling the hours, Marnie is still struggling to get over her husband's death. Likewise, Lori misses her father, and has been devastated by her break-up with an actor named Jacob (Jason Ritter). Well, at least she has her mother ? and her career. Lori has written a TV pilot which is about to be filmed back in New York. Although Marnie offers to come with her to be her assistant, Lori goes alone, looking forward to a change of scenery ? and putting some distance between her and mom.
With Lori (at least temporarily) out of town and mostly out of contact (due to work), Marnie is forced to find something else to do. She offers to pay for the wedding of Lori's best friend, Jillian (Cecily Strong), and becomes very involved in the planning. Marnie starts volunteering at a local hospital, where she befriends an old woman (Jo Jordan) who happens to be mute. Marnie also takes interest in a young man (Jerrod Carmichael) who helps her with the new devices she buys at the local Apple store and she starts driving him to night school, trying to help him reach his potential. Marnie then grows close to a retired police officer called Zipper (J.K. Simmons), who also has a complicated relationship with his daughter.
Then, even as Marnie recoils at the prospect of romance (as she's also being pursued by a local L.A. man played by Michael McKean), she still meddles in her daughter's romantic life, both in L.A. and in New York. A trip to the Big Apple to visit Lori on the set of her new TV show (and spend a few days with her) goes well, but a pleasant dinner with her deceased husband's Italian family simply brings back up her unresolved grief. Marnie has been having sessions of her own with her daughter's therapist (Amy Landecker) back in L.A., but Marnie learns that she eventually has to figure out some things for herself.
"The Meddler" is a very pleasant diversion and a heart-felt tribute to mothers. It manages to validate the feelings of both meddling mothers and the children in whose lives they meddle, helping us to understand and appreciate both sides of that equation, while subtly suggesting solutions to such tension. This film is more fun than "Mother's Day", its main competition for 2016 Mom's Day dollars, and the similarly-themed "I'll See You in My Dreams" (from 2015, with Blythe Danner in the role of the aging widow). "The Meddler" is similarly upbeat and as surprisingly entertaining as 2016's "Hello, My Name is Doris", in which Sally Field gives a wonderful performance of her own as an older woman coming to terms with her advancing maturity.
This film's script and direction (both from Lorene Scafaria, who also wrote and directed 2012's "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World") sometimes exaggerate the story's drama, but the film delivers a decent amount of laughs, along with moments that will make most Movie Fans smile, whether you're a mother, a daughter, or of the male persuasion. The cast is what really makes the movie worth watching ? especially Sarandon, whose optimism and good will is infectious. This may not be the mother of ALL movies about mom, but I'm going to meddle just a bit and suggest if you ever had a mother, you consider seeing "The Meddler". "B+"