Lily Tomlin takes her granddaughter Sage (Julia Garner) to the abortion clinic in Grandma.

Lily Tomlin takes her granddaughter Sage (Julia Garner) to the abortion clinic in Grandma.

Reel Reviews: Tomlin plays atypical Grandma

Taylor and Howe say, “Grandma is "a quick, quirky little movie about almost nothing.”

  • Nov. 20, 2015 5:00 a.m.

Lily Tomlin is Grandma. After a terrible morning spent breaking up with her girlfriend, Grandma is visited by her teenage granddaughter Sage (Julia Garner). Sage needs $600 for an abortion. Grandma doesn’t have the money, but thinks she can get it.

The two drive around town calling in favours, trying to raise the money before the clinic closes. Finally, admitting failure, the two succumb to their last resort, asking Sage’s mom (Marcia Gay Harden) for help.

We say, “It’s a quick, quirky little movie about almost nothing.”

TAYLOR: I liked the way this film was laid out, in little segments, like pointless chapters, although we always just follow Grandma.

I liked Grandma herself, her grumpy lesbian poet seemed very real, but in an extreme way. She went out of her way to make a point about things, theatrically. I could see why people would feel Tomlin’s performance is fake or flaky. I think Grandma herself is fake and flaky, so it works.

However, I thought a lot of the writing was weak, with characters saying things that didn’t need saying and a serious lack of story. Sometimes life is like this; sometimes people have to deal with these things. This tale is of one such situation. It’s not earth shattering, but it’s… real. Nobody in the film seemed to care too much; neither do I.

HOWE: I’m not going to say this is one of the worst movies I have seen this year, but it will be up there with them. The movie itself doesn’t seem to do anything. Grandma and granddaughter drive, looking to scrounge money off former friends and lovers so they can pay for an abortion. That’s the whole movie.

The acting isn’t that great either, especially from Julia Garner who plays the granddaughter, Sage. The way she delivers her lines becomes monotone, a bit like the teacher out of the Peanuts movie last week.

Overall, I wasn’t impressed and that’s a shame because it had a nice cast otherwise: Tomlin, Sam Elliott and Gay Harden. I expected better.

Every time Grandma opened her mouth some expletive would explode and to be truthful, it wasn’t needed. Yes, by all means, make her a curmudgeon, but this was just overboard. If I wanted to hear those sorts of words, I could have them free from my neighbour.

TAYLOR: When stated as “Grandma’s road trip to the abortion clinic,” it sounds like either a whacky comedy or heartfelt drama, yet Grandma is neither. It’s not about the abortion, nor the personal choices made, although the characters do address that these things have been considered. The problem is we are not privy to these considerations.

The film has no heart because it’s missing the meat of the matter. The audience has to further ignore the obvious question of “why is it so imperative to raise the money today?” Sage could have just made another appointment the next day, but this urgency pushes the film forward. Still, in the end, nothing much happens; life goes on for almost everyone. The film draws no conclusions. It’s a slice of life. It is, however, something different and therefore has value.

– Taylor gives Grandma 2.5 O tattoos out of 5.

– Howe gives it 2 punches out of 5.

Grandma is playing at the Vernon Towne Cinema.

– Brian Taylor and Peter Howe’s Reel Reviews appears in The Morning Star every Friday and Sunday.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tanya (Erin Ormond), Donna (Stephanie Roth, and Rosie (Jenni Burke), laugh together in this scene from a rehearsal of ‘Mamma Mia!’ at the Chemainus Theatre. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
BOOMER TALK: Laughter is the best medicine

Vernon columnist Carole Fawcett reminds us all to enjoy the funny things in life, it’s good for us

Toronto’s Mass Vaccination Clinic is shown on Sunday January 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Interior Health reports 2 more deaths, 83 new COVID-19 cases

Health authority also identifies new virus cluster in Fernie

Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo will discuss concerns and goals the City of Armstrong has at a special meeting with council Thursday, Jan. 28, at 5 p.m. (Black Press - file photo)
Shuswap MLA to hear Armstrong concerns, goals

Greg Kyllo of the opposition Liberals will meet with Armstrong council Thursday, Jan. 28

Vernon’s Noric House long-term care facility is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
COVID-19: Two more deaths at Vernon’s Noric House

Total deaths climb to 17 at local long-term care outbreaks

The Rice Box owner On Ouchs (right) is joined by special guest Driver Dispatcher delivery person Spiderman for a recent shift. Ouchs’ phone app creation, Driver Dispatcher, will be raising money for mental health Saturday, Jan. 30. (Facebook photo)
Vernon phone app helps mental health

Driver Dispatcher will donate $5 from every delivery Saturday, Jan. 30, to supporting mental health

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

Crown prosecutors have stayed attempted murder charges against Kelowna’s Jesse Pez. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Man accused in Kelowna Halloween stabbing has attempted murder charge stayed

The Crown only proceeds with charges when evidence provides ‘a substantial likelihood of conviction’

RCMP released this photo on Jan. 27, 2021 of Terrance Jones, 40, a Caucasian man with a closely shaved head, brown eyes, dirty blonde or brown hair, and a thin mustache and beard. The inside of his right arm is covered in tattoos, including one of a face. (Kamloops RCMP photo)
RCMP want public’s help to locate Shuswap man wanted on charge of attempted murder

Sicamous man was arrested previously on Jan. 11 for allegedly breaching conditions of release

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Most Read