This time Meryl Streep is a rocker. We've seen her as a devastated mother ("Sophie's Choice"), an action hero ("River Wild"), a country singer ("A Prairie Home Companion"), the other woman ("It's Complicated"), a fashion doyenne ("The Devil Wears Prada"), Julia Child ("Julie and Julia"), an aging hippie ("Mamma Mia!"), and a drug addict ("August, Osage County"), among many others. She sang her way through college, so this casting is no accident, although she DID have to learn to play guitar.
Written by Diablo Cody ("Juno") and directed by Jonathan Demme ("Neil Young: Heart of Gold"), this capable duo brings our screening audience a PG-13 movie about a family that is conflicted, to say the least. My major problem is, I only LIKE half of them, the others are self-centered, spoiled, inconsiderate and rude.
- * Meryl Streep ("Into the Woods") is Ricki, a wannabe rock star who was never very maternal. She walked out on her husband and three children 15 years ago to pursue her dream of stardom; her family's resentment still simmers. She toils away as a supermarket checker during the day and plays in a small bar's house band at night. She is oblivious to the pain she causes. She thinks "ALS" is short for Alzheimer's.
- * Kevin Kline ("De-Lovely") Her former husband Pete has always kept things on an even keel, raising their children with the capable help of a lovely second wife.
- * Audra McDonald (Lots of TV) Maureen has willingly embraced motherhood and cared for those three children. She is smart enough to know the issues involved, but is kind enough to try to minimize them.
- * Mamie Gummer ("The Good Wife") is their daughter Julie (Gummer is Streep's second child). Julie wants her husband back...period. She is inconsolable and furious...but you can see her echoing her mother's behavior and mannerisms.
- * Sebastian Stan ("Captain America: The Winter Soldier") is their son Joshua. He's getting married but his mom Ricki is not invited to the wedding. He is the most generous and understanding of her three children. I LOVED the choreography in his wedding dance.
- * Rick Springfield (Lots of TV) Greg is Ricki's faithful band mate. Springfield is a musician, so this is the perfect role to show us his stuff, but his character is so likable, I almost forgot his musical abilities. Greg says it's not your kids' job to love you, but it's your job to love your kids. I agree.
If there are any lessons to be learned, I guess I came away with the understanding that it's therapeutic to have your troubled daughter skip her counseling session, get her hair styled, and smoke dope with her parents. Hmmm....