May 10, 2015

Trailing Off: "Ricki and the Flash" (2015)

Meryl Streep
Welcome to the weekly column Trailing Off in which I take a look at a trailer from the past week and analyze its potential. This will be done using an obnoxious amount of analyzing and personal thoughts on the cast and crew as well as expectations. Coming every Sunday (it's called Trailing Off for a reason), I will attempt to highlight films ranging from new blockbusters to lesser known indies and give them their due. Partially to spread awareness, I do believe that there is an art to the sell and will do my best to highlight why these trailers matter or don't with approval (trove) or disapproval (trash). So please stop by, recommend some trailers, and I will see you next time.

Trailer in Discussion

Directed By: Jonathan Demme
Written By: Diablo Cody
Starring: Sebastian Stan, Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline

- Preamble -

I personally have a very strained relationship to Meryl Streep movies. For the most part, she has remained a consistently fine performer. In fact, there's very few moments that can be called appallingly awful. However, I do believe that she is overrated and takes away credit from other performers. This isn't because of her own ego, but the general notion that being the best means that we can exclude ever talking about younger and arguably equally deserving names. If I ever sound bitter towards Streep, it's because I want to keep people aware that there's more than one great actress out there and that we should be doing our part to change that. She is fine, but we need to accept that there's more out there.
However, there was something immediately appealing about Ricki and the Flash for me. It largely pertains to the other two elements in play. First up is Jonathan Demme. For those who don't remember, he directed the murder mystery Silence of the Lambs, which was a dynamic tale of serial killers told with excellent direction. Proving not to be a one trick pony, he went on to do AIDS drama Philadelphia and more recently did the excellent wedding drama Rachel Getting Married. While his profile may be lower, he still manages to produce homely films that appeal to the characters more than the action, which is something that has always been appetizing about his work. He is ambitious to no end, and that makes his team-up with Diablo Cody particularly interesting.
It is hard to associate Cody with anything other than Juno. This isn't a bad thing, though the satirical landscape has lampooned it to the point of self-parody. She hasn't necessarily had anything as iconic since, even if Young Adult and The United States of Tara were rather interesting. I am a Cody apologist at heart, even seeing her problematic directorial debut Paradise. Her work remains very compelling and her approach to dialogue is probably some of the most authentic to come out in the past decade. I like her and will probably see anything she's associated with because of that, especially as she matures as a pop culture critic. She is probably the biggest reason that I am excited to see how this pans out.
Most of all, it is combining three randomly different forces into something that has potential to be a perfect clashing of ideas. I am unsure how well things will go, but there's definitely some optimism between the three Oscar winning people headlining the film. I am even a little intrigued by the premise and the fact that Mamie Gummer, Streep's daughter, is going to be in the film playing the fictional daughter. There's a lot that is getting me excited over this film and that's quite an achievement considering Streep's involvement. So anyways, let's get watching that trailer, shall we?

- Dissection -

For the starters, my only real complaint is that I don't think that I can buy Streep as a singer. She is fine, but it is also distracting that she is a musician of her age that does cover songs, specifically Dobie Gray's "Drift Away." There is nothing wrong with this, as cover bands are rather key to the music scene. However, with the way that it sounds like she has been a musician at least since the 80's, I would be more interested in seeing if she amounted to anything with original content. The songs don't really have much impact for me and may be the only thing that is keeping me from falling for the trailer. It is fine, but I could use something a little less on the nose. Maybe there will be context for this in the film. For now, it doesn't sell me.
However, I am kind of sold on most of the other things featured in the trailer. I enjoy that this is a film about an aging woman who has lived her life her way and is thus set in her ways. Then there's her daughter, who is feeling left out. There's a crossroads of problems here that pan out to something. Most of the trailer establishes the conflict, and I am kind of convinced about the problems that will be explored. Even the bonding scenes that come towards the end have their moments. We get a little risque humor thrown in and suddenly is becomes a more interesting trailer overall. I find it as a whole a fine trailer that gets its points across rather well.
However, I am a little worried about it because of the general idea that the trailer's own production makes it feel like a Lifetime movie production. Yes, I will be seeing this because I like Demme and Cody, but it doesn't convince me otherwise. I see everything here and get a sense of what to expect, but not something that makes me anticipate the film more than I already did. It just simply plays out in a way that gives enough to satisfy audiences. Yes, Streep looks like she's having fun. I'll give it that. However, what else is there really to say about this trailer? Call me when the film actually comes out. 

- One Sentence Sell -

Meryl Streep is back as an aging rock star trying to bond with her daughter in comedic ways right before her wedding.

-Trove or Trash -

This isn't to claim that the trailer is awful. I am simply choosing to note that it doesn't sell me on a film that I was already going to see before I saw this trailer. If anything, it gets me a little excited to know that it is about on par with what I expected.

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