If Meryl Streep isn’t the greatest actress of our generation, I don’t know who is. The 66 year-old three-time Oscar winner returns as the leather-clad Ricki Rendazzo (formerly Linda Brummel), who abandoned her husband, daughter and two sons years ago to pursue her dream of rock and roll stardom.
The film is directed by Jonathan Demme, who won the Oscar for directing 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs. The film is written by Diablo Cody, who won the Oscar for Best Writing, Original Screenplay for 2007’s Juno. The story is loosely based on Cody’s real-life mother-in-law who has been singing rock and roll for many years.
The film also stars Kevin Kline as Ricki’s ex-husband Pete, who won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in 1988’s A Fish Called Wanda. While the film includes plenty of star power, it doesn’t add up to a great movie.
Ricki has not been a part of her children’s lives for years. She is fronting a bar band – Ricki and the Flash – featuring guitarist and sometime boyfriend, the likeable Greg, played by rocker Rick Springfield. She works as a checker at Total Foods in California, is broke and has declared bankruptcy. She is called home to Indianapolis by Pete (now remarried to Maureen, played by Audra McDonald), when daughter Julie (Streep’s real-life daughter Mamie Gummer) is dumped by her husband for another woman. Julie is depressed and suicidal when Ricki re-enters her life. Although Julie accepts Ricki’s re-entry into her life fairly quickly, her sons are not so welcoming. One son is engaged to be married and was not planning to invite his mother to his wedding, and the other son, the obligatory gay character in the film, is not at all happy to see his mom.
The film contains far too much of Streep singing with Springfield and the rest of the Flash. It’s not that her singing is bad, it really isn’t. But there is far too much of it included in the film. Overall, though the film has some good messages about the importance of family despite making bad decisions, it is mostly a downer and overall disappointing.
The film contains some sexual activity outside of marriage and adult language, including the abuse of God’s name several times.
Note: Streep and Kline previously appeared together in 1982’s Sophie’s Choice, while Streep was pregnant with daughter Mamie, who portrays Streep and Kline’s daughter Julie in this film.