Today's movie wasn't a blockbuster at the box office and it didn't garner another Academy Award nomination for its star, Meryl Streep, but I love it. It's something different for Meryl. She's the lead singer in a not-very-successful band called Ricki and The Flash (2015, PG-13, Available On DVD).
Once upon a time, a woman named Linda was married to a man named Pete (Kevin Kline). They had three children. But Linda left her family so she could live her rock and roll dream. She becomes Ricki, who as an older woman has never achieved stardom, but Ricki and The Flash are the house band at a small bar. Ricki also works as a cashier at a Whole Foods-type store. Her band mate, Greg (Rick Springfield), is her lover. She's estranged from her now-adult children.
Then Pete calls Ricki and asks her to visit because their daughter Julie (Mamie Gummer, who is Meryl Streep's daughter and a successful actress in her own right) has suffered a crisis. Pete's wife Maureen (Audra McDonald, a singer of great fame on Broadway who does not sing in this movie) has been a devoted step-mother, but she's out of town.
Ricki reluctantly returns for an uncomfortable reunion with her children. She connects with Julie, but Ricki's sons openly resent her and look down on her. Maureen returns and makes it clear that Ricki is not needed nor wanted.
Can this disparate group of people form a family of some sort?
I can't say that Jonathan Demme's direction of this movie is brilliant, nor is Diablo Cody's writing a revelation. I like the general plot, although it's rather predictable.
It's Meryl Streep and Mamie Gummer who make the movie worth watching. Gummer's Julie is heartbroken. One look at her face shows it. The relationship that develops between Ricki and Julie helps Julie "walk on." Streep has a beautiful voice, though some wouldn't agree with me after Mama Mia!, but she proved it long ago in Postcards From the Edge. In Ricki and The Flash, Streep speaks and sings in a lower register. It's fun to see The Iron Lady and The Devil [who] Wears Prada as the odd woman out because of her rocker sensibilities.
I also like the relationship between Ricki and Greg. I would not kick former heartthrob Rick Springfield out of my bed for eating crackers.
Ricki and The Flash earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Highest Coolness and Approval. It's not for children. I don't know if it would interest older teens.
My neighborhood postal worker who doesn't always pick up my mail delivered this DVD to me on behalf of Netflix.
Rick, will you please sing us out?
Infinities of love,
|Meryl Streep as Ricki|
|Meryl Streep and Rick Springfield|
|Mamie Gummer and Meryl Streep|