A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ricki and the Flash doesn't shy away from showing mother-child (and ex-spouse) conflict. It talks quite openly about why the characters' relationships are a mess, though its ultimate message is that you can fix your mistakes if you really want to. Some of the issues at play are fairly heavy -- abandonment, parent-child estrangement, conflicting political viewpoints, accepting someone's sexual identity, etc. -- making it pretty intense for younger viewers. Other mature content includes strong language (including "s--t" and one "f--k"), sexual innuendo, kissing/starting to take clothes off (though nothing graphic shown), drinking (sometimes too much; hangovers are shown), and pot smoking.
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What's the story?
In RICKI AND THE FLASH, Ricki Rendazzo, aka Linda Brummel (Meryl Streep), is the star of a past-its-prime-but-still-good band who's forced to go back to her past -- literally and figuratively -- and make things right when her daughter's husband walks out on her soon after their wedding. For the first time in years, Ricki goes home to Indianapolis, this time in an effort to help her daughter (Streep's real-life daughter, Mamie Gummer) and possibly realign the course of her broken relationships. But old habits die hard, and forgiveness doesn't come easily. Will Ricki ever become a mother whose children are willing to accept her love?
Is it any good?
This well-intentioned but cliched dramedy, while entertaining, suffers from a people-pleasing affliction that robs it of its bite. It's far too easy to see where the movie's headed: It relies on many cliches about estranged parent-child relationships and ex-wife/current wife tensions. And the pacing's strangely flat.
But somehow Ricki redeems itself, in no small part due to Streep's empathetic portrayal of Ricki. She simply won't allow the script's over familiarity to overcome all of its promise. It's wonderful to see her act opposite Gummer, who also rises to the occasion, as does the rest of the cast. They infuse the film with such authenticity that it almost doesn't matter that the script needs work or that the rhythms are off (except for the musical interludes, which are truly enjoyable) or that interesting subplots are discarded without a second look. Thanks to its star, Ricki and the Flash is fun enough to be worth a watch.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Ricki and the Flash portrays drinking and drug use. Are there realistic consequences? Is substance use glamorized at all?
What is the movie saying about the role of mothers in our society? What kind of a mom is Ricki? How do you think the story might be different if the Ricki character was a man/father?
How does the film depict divorce? Does it seem cliched, or does it put a new spin on the topic?
- In theaters: August 7, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: November 24, 2015
- Cast: Meryl Streep, Mamie Gummer, Kevin Kline
- Director: Jonathan Demme
- Studio: Sony Pictures Releasing
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Music and Sing-Along
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: thematic material, brief drug content, sexuality and language
- Last updated: May 25, 2020
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