Thursday, March 9, 2023

It aims to be killer comedy. Sorry, no

Netflix's Grace and Frankie has gone a long way toward establishing Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda as an on-screen duo. Tomlin and Fonda also joined forces (along with Sally Field) in the recent 80 for Brady. Haven't had enough? You're in luck. Fonda and Tomlin return in director Peter Weitz's Moving On, a movie in which they play college pals who reunite at the funeral of another college friend. Tomlin, as a lesbian cello player living in an assisted living facility, and Fonda, as a widow who abandoned her dreams, work with ease but the screenplay has trouble accommodating both the story's serious and comic elements. Fonda's Claire wants to avenge a decades-old incident with the husband (Malcolm McDowell) of the woman whose funeral she's attending. At the wake, she tells McDowell's Howard that she plans to kill him, not exactly the stuff of sympathy cards. Tomlin doles out acerbic remarks and hard-hitting doses of truth as Claire plots her vengeance. Serious attempts at dealing with the problems of aging (loneliness, abandoned pursuits, and physical infirmity) might have made for a better movie than the quasi comic elements revolving around Claire's vengeful intentions.  We eventually learn why Claire has remained so angry but the revelation proves too weighty for a comedy.  The point: If comedy is hard, dark comedy is even harder. With Richard Roundtree, who -- judging by his work here as one of Clarie's former husbands -- should be employed more.

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