Ricki and the Flash – 3/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Ricki and the FlashRicki and the Flash – 3/5 – Lost in the thick of big budget and indies are the middle of the road films.  These kinds of film usually deal with family, individual or social ideals.  No matter if it’s a drama, horror or comedy, these middle of the road stories aren’t very prevalent now-a-days.   When they do come along, they are a blip on the radar and usually garner some wonderful experiences.  Ricki and the Flash plays to the familiar tropes of family dysfunction, chasing dreams and redemption, but doesn’t stay consistent throughout.  In the end, this is still a film that will have you feeling good in the end.

Premise: A mother (who gives up everything) to chase her musical aspiration.  After many years away, she must return home during a trying time.  Through all the family drama, Ricki must learn what really matters to her, and what ‘chasing your dream’ really means in the end.

There are a lot of actors/actresses in this film so you can reference it at the IMDB page.  For the most part, the acting is on par with everything that is going on the film.  There is a lot of ‘relevancy’ when it comes to the characters as they are built upon the ‘family’ archetypes.  With these archetypes, everything is grounded to familiarity, creating a dynamic that is charming, whimsical and witty.  The dialogue between the family members is a wonderful experience.  It is refreshing as it gives a glimpse into a window for people to see as if it is their own family interacting with each other.  The dialogue goes from being common to awkward in the same conversations.  This is a positive as the banter feels realistic instead of forced fed.  The writer does a good job in creating a ‘flow’ within the communication.  You believe the character’s heart, purpose and overall progression in the film.  Leading the ensemble cast is Meryl Streep as Ricki.  She plays the mom who ‘left’ her family to chase her dreams to become a singer.  As Ricki, Streep shows you why she is a world class actress.  She commands the screen as she leads through the film, creating a great focal point.  Her on screen presence sheds the limelight on her own fortitude, giving her complexion, depth and showing her deeply human flaws because of her past choices.  This also gives a reflection for the audience; creating a person that may not be perfect but is trying to for the better.

The direction goes along a very steady but linear path.  As mentioned, the films main focus is on Ricki.  You meet her in the later part of her adult life, struggling to become the ‘superstar’ singer she dreamed to be when she left her family long ago.  Living through her struggles, she gets a phone call that becomes that ‘game changing’ moment (in the film).  From here, the film becomes intertwined within two things:

Family Drama situations

Characterization of chasing dreams/redemption themes

The mixing of these two go hand-in-hand throughout the film.  Even when the story fragments between the three acts, what keep the film together are these two things and the strong prescene of Streep.  From the first act, we get introduced to Ricki and her current struggles.  After a certain phone call, Ricki travels back home to her family (that she left), and must find a way to reconnect with her Ex-Husband and three children.  She comes back to help her daughter; who is facing an unlikely divorce.  Through all these rekindling, there’s a lot of grounded sensations.  This is built through slick dialogue, awkward humor and the common struggles of a dysfunctional family.  There are some parts of this ‘drama’ that are stronger than others, but overall it is enough for you to see the flaws in endear the moments that happen with these characters.  As the film builds upon its characters, family drama and the subtle hints of the themes, it then hits a weird momentum wall.  All that was built gets shifted, flipping the family drama to a ‘pseudo’ character tale.  The sudden shift kind of blankets everything built up within the characters, but the focal point being on Ricki doesn’t unhinge the pace.  When she flies back to Los Angeles and goes back to her current life, she is faced with a lot of hard decision, personal struggles and a general ‘retrospective’ of her current lifestyle.  In the second act, there is a montage of progressive musical numbers that is mixed in between some exposition and a forced love story.  The great building up of the Ricki character helps you see a complexion of deeper social themes, but just enough to create a dynamic of who Ricki is and why she is struggling inside.  The film then threads back to the ‘family drama’ in the third act, leading us to a wedding that blends the style of ‘musical’ aspects with a ‘happily ever after’ situation.  Within the climax, there is a big musical number, some dancing and a ‘feel good’ montage.  This kind of ending is predictable and cheesy, but it helps wrap up the characters, storylines and the ‘redemption’ angle for the main character, Ricki.

The visuals are aesthetic to the story.  The common look at familiar cities and the ‘hometown’ style for the family drama creates an attachment for the audience to the characters.  The score is a great mix of soft/slow instrumental sounds with a familiar soundtrack of current hits and old rock songs.  That blending of that ‘ageless’ sensation helps add emotional overtures to the film, leading to great scenes and musical quips.  The best part of the music is when Ricki and the Flash are playing the song.  You feel the authenticity in their singing (as it was all done by the band and Meryl Streep actually singing).

Ricki and the Flash is the middle of the road film that isn’t a spectacular triumph, but it is a wonderful experience in its own right.  This is a film that you can enjoy with family and friends.  If you’re a fan of Meryl Streep or like a good family drama styled story, this is one for you.  This is a good film to see at matinee, but nothing more than that.

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