Friday, August 14, 2015

A Review you can use: Ricki and the Flash - Rick Springfield fans may not love me...and then again, maybe they will.

Good evening all!

I am a Rick Springfield fan.  

That's nothing new most of you know that about me.  I mean, seriously, have you read my first novel, Dream in Color?  It's all about a middle aged woman in love with a slightly more than middle aged rock star.  Yeah, do the math.  If X equals the middle aged woman being me, and Y equals the rock star being Rick Springfield, then there you go.

Anyway, with that in mind, it should surprise no one that I went to see Rick's latest foray into acting, with a supporting role in Meryl Streep's new movie, "Ricki and the Flash."

I am a Rick, Springfield fan, but I 'm not a a fan of his acting.  Sure, I loved Dr. Noah Drake.  But then he did "Hard to Hold" which, if I'm being totally honest, is a bad movie. (I've called it "Hard to Hold Down.)  A bad movie supported by excellent music and one seriously steamy love scene that's beautifully shot, but it's a bad movie.  And since "Hard to Hold" I've followed Rick's acting.  He's been in some really bad movies, and some mediocre tv shows.  He's not bad, it's just that music is his first, and strongest talent.

But I'm getting way ahead of myself.  Springfield is not the star of "Ricki and the Flash."  Meryl Streep stars in the story of a middle aged mom who has tried (and failed) to make it big as a rocker in L.A. with her band while her way upper middle class ex husband (Kevin Kline) thrives with his new wife and their three children, all of whom are now grown.

Ricki (Streep) is called back to Indiana when her daughter, Julie, falls into deep depression after her husband leaves her.  Ricki spends times living in her husband's palatial home, trying to mend fences with her adult children, but managing to break even bigger fences with Maureen, the step mother.

If I'm going to be honest, and I think I've proved I can be by the previous paragraphs, this movie is a yawner until about halfway through when someone remembers, "Hey, we have Rick Springfield in the cast maybe we should give him some lines."

I can't put my finger on it.  I like Meryl Streep, I love Kevin Kline and Maimie Gummer, as Julie, says all the right words with all the right inflections and yet everything seems flat and disjointed.  Given that Diablo Cody ("JUNO") wrote the screenplay and Jonathan Demme ("SILENCE OF THE LAMBS") directed, this surprised me. flat, boring, blah.

And then...and then something happens.  Ricki goes back to L.A., dispirited and down on herself and
convinced she's the worst mother to ever live.  (She is, sort of.  I mean, come on.  She's a disaster in leggings.)  And then there's this incandescent conversation/argument between Ricki and Greg (Springfield) about parenting and how your kids hate you and...well, you've seen most of that scene because they put it in the trailer.

Springfield saves this movie.  I am a fan, but I never thought I'd say this about his acting, but Rick Springfield saves this movie from being a waste of time.  From the moment he gives the speech about being a parent, everything livens up. Yes, there's a love scene, and some touching moments and some legitimately good rock and roll, and I pretty much love everything that happens in the Salt Well (the bar where Ricki and her band play).  

Oh sure, the second half of the movie reads like a complete John Hughes rip off.  (If you see the film you'll know what I mean.  There's a big "Pretty in Pink" vibe going on here.)  But at that point you're sold. The good news is other than Springfield and Streep, the other characters get very little to say in the rest of the movie.  And there's some good, old fashioned rock and roll.

Yes, Streep played and sang and yes, she's decent.

But the bigger surprise here is Rick Springfield made this movie and thanks to his efforts, I'm giving this one a 3.5 stars out of 5.  Decent escape from the summer heat.