Film Review: "PEACE, LOVE AND MISUNDERSTANDING"
Published: Friday, June 8, 2012
Updated: Friday, June 8, 2012 14:06
Jane Fonda makes her return to the silver screen in this, her first role since “GEORGIA RULE”, and… well, it’s basically just “GEORGIA RULE” all over again. Only without Lindsay Lohan. Who thought that was a good idea?
“PEACE, LOVE, AND MISUNDERSTANDING”, from director Bruce Beresford, follows the “GEORGIA” formula with a slight twist: that film saw Lohan and her mother sent from the city to the sticks, where their sexually promiscuous ways and total lack of manners were pretty much beaten out of them by upstanding grandma Jane Fonda. This film simply reverses it, following an uptight family comprised of Mom the lawyer (Catherine Keener) and her hipster kids - Nat Wolff, who plays the cliché “kid who films every moment of his life because he wants to be a filmmaker” (has anyone met anyone like that in real life?) and showstealer Elizabeth Olsen – as their wound-up yuppie ways are ironed out by hippie grandma Fonda.
Had Beresford actually allowed me to believe any of his characters existed, we might have had a quality family drama/comedy on our hands. Instead, he draws everything in such broad strokes - the hippie grandmother? She lives in Woodstock - that the film never achieves even the slightest feeling of honesty. It’s a sitcom in every way, right down to the insanely lazy set-up - after her husband leaves her, Keener, whose character is clearly very well off, goes back to live with his 20-years estranged mother for reasons never once broached, much less explained. Maybe Motel 6 was booked up.
There’s not a moment of real drama here, much less moments of honesty. Will Elizabeth Olsen’s vegetarian intellectualist fall for the cookie cutter hunk working at – gasp – the butcher store? Will Keener learn that she’s been too harsh on her mother all these years? Will Keener’s son Jake finish his movie in time for the film festival? Will the wacky main character, after some conflicts and hijinks, bring the family closer together than ever? If you’re like me, you’ve already seen this movie quite a few times, and you’re very, very tired of it.
“PEACE, LOVE, AND UNDERSTANDING” aims to float by on a modicum of belly laughs brought on by pot and sex jokes, but its sitcom styling will turn off anyone searching for the slightest shred of originality in the scenario. I’m not even sure who this is made to please – sure, the themes of “family values” could play well to certain audiences, but said audiences are the type of people who probably won’t appreciate the fact that their protagonist is an unabashed drug dealer constantly engaging in sex with random men. Not exactly the type of subplot parents enjoy explaining to their 8-year olds on the drive home.
The only people this could possibly play to are aging hippies; still clinging to the idea that their 60s idealism is the purest way through life. But I can’t even recommend it to them: you could smoke all the weed in Grandma’s grow room, but this trip to Woodstock would still be an uninteresting slog.