15 – 79mins – 2015
“I don’t [have an anger problem], I have an asshole problem.”
If I were to be bitchy, I would say that writer/director Paul Weitz’s best work (generation-defining American Pie and Oscar-winning About A Boy) was over a decade ago. However, with last year’s Grandma he has quietly crafted an engaging, character rich dramedy – it’s just a shame it was so hushed it seems to have fallen rather under the radar.
“I find as I get older, old shit bubbles up.”
Small in scale, shallow in budget and short in runtime, Weitz’s family-focused script is nonetheless big on multifarious personalities, with Lily Tomlin rightfully receiving a Golden Globe nomination for playing the titular Elle Reid, a blunt-talking, sharp-minded lesbian poet who must help her desperate granddaughter, Sage (Julia Garner), find the cash to fund the termination of an unwanted pregnancy – on the same day Elle has broken up with her younger girlfriend (Judy Greer).
“Where can you get a reasonably priced abortion these days?”
As Elle and Sage drive about town (in Tomlin’s own vintage Dodge Royal!) in a desperate bid to raise $630 by calling in favours from old friends (Laverne Cox, Elizabeth Peña) and even older flames (an emotionally embittered Sam Elliott), temperaments, life choices and soul-crushing secrets are dredged up and analysed under the demographically diverse microscope. You don’t necessarily agree with these troubled characters (at certain times you don’t even like the sparring misanthropes), but you do admire their drive and resilience, warm to their quirks and will on their peace of mind.