'Ricki and the Flash'

Meryl, what were you thinking?

"Ricki and the Flash" stars Meryl Streep as an 80s wannabe rock star, stuck in that era, who gave up being a mom and wife to go in search of her dream of fame in L.A. Decades have passed and Ricki is contacted to come back to Indianapolis to help with her adult daughter who has just attempted suicide.

Diablo Cody with the writing credits of "Juno" and "Young Adult," misses the mark with this new venture. It's ridiculously stilted and contrived with only a couple of scenes attempting to save this bomb. Again, Meryl, what were you thinking?

Pete Brummel (Kevin Kline) reaches out to his rocker ex-wife as he needs her to help care for their adult daughter, Julie (Mamie Gummer) who is in deep depression over her divorce. Ricki is completely out of touch with her children, but she flies back to Indy to work her magic. Abandonment of her children has made lasting and visible scars which she must now face head on.

The film starts off full of energy as Ricki and Greg (Rick Springfield) are rocking out to "American Girl" by Tom Petty. I wanted to applaud at the end of that performance. Unfortunately, it was all down hill from there. The story screeches to a halt as we are hit over the head time and time again about Ricki's dire financial straits and her nonchalant attitude regarding her decisions. Now, her attempts to mother her children this late in the game is pathetically comical.

The story-line drags, continually making me wonder why they included all of these extraneous scenes that are not relevant to the predictable conclusion. It meanders so dreadfully that I started making out a mental grocery list for tomorrow. Speaking of grocery lists, that was one element that was mildly entertaining throughout the film — Total Foods grocery store. I think we all know the "whole" story with that. Now speaking from years of shopping organic produce and going through self-checkout lines, I know that bananas are 94011. In the film, Ricki boasts her knowledge of all PLU codes and she uses the wrong one for bananas and uses the banana code for milk. Yes, that's probably a little picky on my part, but it was a focal part of one scene, so let's get it right. I know I'm not the only self-checker banana buyer out there.

The erroneous PLU codes are the least of the film's problems. It's the ridiculous dialogue and hesitant interactions between and among the actors. I've seen middle school productions that seem more natural than Streep and Kline. Both actors seem to have been cued as to when to chuckle or laugh and then when to stop. It's unbelievably stilted and unrealistic. Again, your mind begins to wander and you notice how Streep's hair is braided strangely in front of and behind her ear and then how her eye shadow and liner changes from scene to scene. No worries, though. Your mind has plenty of time to wander without missing a thing. The writing isn't even close to what has come to be expected from Cody with utterances such as, "You know 'em, you grow 'em." Springfield seems so uncomfortable saying this that it takes a moment to process the words.

Streep just isn't right for this part. Although we know she is a very talented actress, playing this role is just not suited to her or she is so poorly directed that she didn't have a chance to pull it off. Yes, she can sing, but she's unable to find herself in this role making her completely unbelievable and robotic in her performance. In her attempt to become an unrefined, selfish old-school rocker, she just comes off as incompetent and confused which is sad.

Springfield, although having started in acting before getting his musical break, is lucky he got his musical break because acting is truly not his forte. Granted, delivering lines like he was given doesn't make the task any easier, but he needs to stick to guitar playing. He is given the chance to showcase his skills in this arena which makes a few minutes of the movie more palatable.

Kline shows up to deliver his lines and that's about it. He also appears to be awkward and unsure of himself, not knowing what to do with his hands and how to deliver his lines. The saving grace is a dinner scene in a restaurant that is uncomfortably enjoyable to watch. And the final scene filled with music and dancing shows the actors finally loosening up and having fun.

Skip this one and save your money. If you thought you'd enjoy Rick Springfield in this movie, just listen to Spotify ... it's free.

1/2 out of 4 stars

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