Ricki and the Flash, a film that, on paper, is a movie destined for success, fell short in its delivery and has been met with critical disappointment in the first weekend of its release.
Ricki and the Flash is packed with quality actors. Academy Award-winner Meryl Streep plays Ricki, who, unlike how the movie’s trailers portray her, is not a rock star in the twilight of her career, desparately trying to hold on to that last dying bit of fame; Ricki is actually a rock and roll never-has-been. Streep’s Ricki left her husband and three children to chase her dream of being of rock star, a career that never really ever took off. And the film finds Ricki continuing to be all that she has ever been since she left, a singer in a small-time coverband.
Streep is surrounded by solid performers such as Kevin Kline, Audra McDonald, Streep’s real-life daughter Mamie Gummer, and real-life rock and roller Rick Springfield, who is cast as Ricki’s love interest. A seemingly strong cast, in addition to a script written by Oscar-winner Diablo Cody (Juno), and directed by Oscar-winner Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs), would have to produce something stellar — but it doesn’t.
Reviews of Ricki and the Flash by critics have, for the most part, been gentle in reference to the performances displayed by the actors. But some have mentioned a lack of complexity in the Ricki character, and a desire to hear less singing from Meryl Streep, making it clear that she should stick with acting and forego any ideas about entering the music industry.
“Meryl Streep can do anything, but that doesn’t mean she should do everything,” said Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Critics almost unanimously cite poor writing and a weak and predictable plot as factors contributing to the downfall of Ricki and the Flash, as the movie never seems to really gel.
“Partly, it’s a matter of style, but mostly it’s because the script is thin,” said Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune.
And it appears that even with a weak script, Streep and company still make a go of trying to pull it out, and make something of the film. But even with their collective talents, a substantive and original movie couldn’t be achieved. They were unable to overcome a script lacking natural and meaty dialogue, and a plot that is cliché and predictable.
Movie goers seem to be a little less harsh in their analysis of the film, enjoying the simple and predictable story of a dysfunctional American family, lead by Streep’s Ricki, a character that Diablo Cody tells NPR was modeled after her own mother-in-law.
Despite the negative nature of critic’s reviews, it seems that they may have wanted to like Ricki and the Flash, but just couldn’t overlook its shortcomings.
“There was a real opportunity here to make a profound piece of art. Instead, we’re left with a perfunctory piece of filmmaking that doesn’t go much beyond that, ” said David Blustein of ABC News. “Ricki and the Flash is a nice movie, but it’s also nothing special.”
[Image courtesy of Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images]