Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Fast Forward: Embrace Your Inner Grandma with “Mack & Rita”

What would happen if we stopped acting our age, and started acting in a way that honors our true, authentic selves, no matter how quirky? That’s the question posed in the newest comedy starring the dazzling Diane Keaton as Rita, the endearing Elizabeth Lail as Mack, and the fierce Taylour Paige as Carla. In this comedic caper, reminiscent of the 1988 film Big (with a dash of 13 Going on 30) Mack, an old-at-heart 30-year-old social media influencer wanders into a “past life regression” tent and emerges her 70-year-old self, a dewy and effervescent Rita. Chaos ensues, and it’s charming and fun, until it isn’t.

The film opens with a snappy energy, following a plucky, grade school-age Mack riding a bike around her neighborhood with friends. But she ditches her girlfriends and pulls off into her Grandma’s driveway, the “coolest old gal” she knew. She says that her friends always like to ride too fast, and she likes to take it slow. Although the now 30-year-old Mack is a published author with influencer status, she doesn’t embrace her life: says she wants to lay down whenever she wants, say what she wants, take what she wants, and never use a filter. “I’m an old woman trapped in the body of a little girl,” Mack explains, on more than one occasion.

When her fashionable and partly flippant friends accompany Mack and her bestie Carla to Palm Springs for a bachelorette getaway, the storyline takes a turn. Mack undergoes her transformation, and, if it’s possible, becomes a brighter, more fabulous version of herself…albeit much, much older.

And here’s the thing: Diane Keaton makes 70 look pretty darn fly. To be sure, the film capitalizes on the “coastal grandma” vibe with some pretty fantastic wardrobe ensembles, Keaton really crushes this role with her spunk and charm. And she unwittingly gives every woman alive hope that they, too, can look sensational at 70 — engaging and beautiful and relevant.

Other memorable performances include Paige as Carla, who stands by her bestie no matter what form she’s in, Loretta Devine as Sharon, Carla’s mom, and Patti Harrison as Mack’s fiery, phone-throwing publicist.

There are a couple of funny and engaging scenes where Rita tries to explain the art of social media “likes” to the grandma’s wine club, and Simon Rex as Luca is pretty entertaining as the past life regression guy. But once you get past the spot-on fashion choices, smart dialogue and stand-out performances, the film starts to wobble like a grandma in 6 inch heels. The scenes seem to drag on with no apparent reason and some just fizzle out.

And then there’s the awkward moment where the glammed-up grandma Rita kisses Jack, Mack’s would-be love interest, who is 30 years younger. But at closer inspection, this moment actually challenges our misogynistic notions, because hello…how many times have we seen men date women 30 years their junior? (Don’t believe me? Check out this link of celebs here.)

I did appreciate the themes in this film, most of all that getting older is something to look forward to, not dread. The movie gives you license to be yourself, asserting that there is a deep power and yes, a luminescent beauty in knowing who you are. The film also takes on the idea of the “spectacle” of social media with a refreshing verve that’s hard to argue with.

But the problem is that Mack & Rita tries to serve up a chamomile tea in place of a bubbly mimosa, and to make matters worse, it’s luke warm. Do I recommend this film? It depends on how much time you have to kill.

Movie times: Click here

Director: Katie Aselton

Writers: Madeline Walter, Paul Welsh

Stars: Diane Keaton, Elizabeth Lail, Taylour Paige, Loretta Devine, Dustin Milligan

Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 1h 35m

Genres: Comedy, Drama




Christine Van Tuyl
Christine Van Tuyl
Christine was born and raised in Texas, but moved to Coronado with her family as a teen in 1993. Although initially horrified by surfers, flannels and skateboards, she ultimately grew to love all things So-Cal. A graduate of UCSD, Christine got her first writing job on the KUSI ten o’clock news while simultaneously juggling a reporter position at the San Diego Community News Group. She worked as a public relations professional, a book editor, real estate professional, and a freelance writer before eventually succumbing to motherhood in 2008.A decade later, Christine resurfaced to start the Island Girl Blog, a Coronado lifestyle blog. In addition, she writes a monthly page for Crown City Magazine. Christine loves hanging out with her husband, Ian, and their two spirited daughters, Holland and Marley, who attend Village Elementary and Coronado Middle School. When she’s not working, you’ll find her practicing yoga, spilling coffee at school drop off, meeting friends for sushi, or sailing the Bay with her family and English Bulldog, Moshi. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]