Everyone knows that Meryl Streep rocks but that takes on a whole new meaning in “Ricki and the Flash.”
Streep is one of the most versatile actors in Hollywood. She again demonstrates that strength in “Ricki and the Flash,” where she sings and plays guitar to complete her role as a rocker. This makes her more believable and the whole film more enjoyable.
The soundtrack that Streep and Rick Springfield, along with the rest of the cast, perform will have you smiling, tapping your toes and maybe shedding a few tears. Songs range from Tom Petty’s “American Girl” to more modern tunes like Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” but more importantly the songs chosen have an emotional connection to the characters and the story.
Ricki (Streep) is a rock star, well, trying to be a rock star. Years before she left her husband, Pete, (Kevin Kline) and children Josh (Sebastian Stan), Adam (Nick Westrate) and Julie (Mamie Gummer, Streep’s actual daughter) to pursue her dream. And now after her daughter has a life crisis she needs her mom, at least according to her dad. Ricki arrives and finds her family waiting with less than open arms.
The script, penned by Diablo Cody, who also wrote “Juno,” creates a story that’s full of character, humor, heart, drama and takes the opportunity to make the audience laugh as well as help them understand the seriousness of the situation.
The dialogue is dripping with wit, sarcasm and is full of great zingers. But it also provides the heart that keeps pumping the movie, conversations with mom and daughter, mom and dad, and of course, mom and the band, and reveals the struggles of the characters.
And while the script drives the wonderful dialogue it also creates fantastic characters, which are given life by the cast. Most notable are Streep and Gummer, and not just because this mother-daughter duo performs a believable relationship (obviously). Their characters are quirky and fun and watching them grow together is delightful.
Depressed Gummer wears her pajamas and keeps her hair unwashed, which is both tragic and hilarious as she travels around town looking like a homeless person. Then Streep’s Ricki isn’t always as cool and collected as she would like to be, laughing off her financial woes and trying to act composed for her crumbling family.
While the final act ends somewhat predictably, “Ricki and the Flash” is a great show, complete with rockin’ music, engaging characters, snappy dialogue and a heartfelt beat that keeps the rhythmic story going. But with Streep as the leading lady rocker that’s no surprise.