Meryl Streep adds ‘Righteous-Rock-Chick’ to her resume in this breezy dramedy by Jonathan Demme. A musical masterpiece this is not. But it does offer a meaty slice of familial tribulation as the eponymous Ricki Rendazzo (Streep) attempts to reconnect with resentful offspring following self-imposed exile.
Streep, the consummate pro, is clearly having a good time here – I suspect she’s partial to funky gigs like Ricki. Also charming is a strong ensemble, led by bashful ex-husband, Kevin Kline and wounded daughter, Mamie Gummer. But the film overindulges, clearly satisfied that the sight of Streep’s Joan Jett shtick will entertain viewers. In fact the rock renditions muck with the pacing. I preferred the quieter scenes, showcasing a handy script littered with moving but restrained exchanges (and a couple of hilarious zingers to boot!). There is even some welcome commentary on gender inequality with respect to ambition and duty.
Unfortunately the film runs out of steam. The ending is pure Hollywood schmaltz with well-to-do socialites narrowing their eye-slits at Streep’s black sheep bohemian heroine – one of many time-worn devices designed to enhance the catharsis of redemption. Bleh. Like a band sick of playing their hits, this show’s best bits are in the middle.