Marnie (Sarandon) is a somewhat loud and over-protective mother from Brooklyn, who recently lost her husband. She decides it would be best to move to Los Angeles, where her daughter Lori (Rose Byrne from X-Men: First Class and Neighbors) works as a writer, to be closer to her. Her daughter doesn’t seem to want anything to do with her, so Marnie begins using her spare time and money helping others. She helps finance the wedding one of Lori’s friends, drive a young Apple worker to night school and befriends a retired police officer.
As the movie continues, Marnie begins to realize that she is doing everything to cover up the grief over the loss of her husband. Writing the plot of the movie down for this review has reminded me just how generic and overdone this type of movie is. Marnie is zany and over-protective, her daughter distant and a gigantic asshole and the side characters stare at Marnie, in awe of her constant energy and positivity.
The movie relies on Marnie to keep the energy going. Without her, this movie would have absolutely nothing going for it, as the rest of the characters are boring blank-slates. Marnie’s constant energy and enthusiasm is quite infectious, reminding me of an aunt with similar loving charisma. Everybody has a family member like Marnie, and her boundless and constant positivity makes some of the movie funny and charming.
Unfortunately, even Sarandon’s charm begins to wear off when you realize that it is all the film has going for it. There is no sense of originality here, no moment where I could say “I’ve never seen a movie do that before.” It’s a color-by-numbers drama/comedy that seems to hope its lead will make the mediocrity of its script go away. It doesn’t.
While writing this review, I am reminded of the movie Demolition that was released a few weeks ago, as both films follow characters who are struggling with the loss of a loved one and have the way they think changed by the people they meet. The only difference is that The Meddler focuses more on the comedy where Demolition stuck to drama. The similarities are so uncanny that I feel like it would be wrong not to give them the same score. So I will.