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Dan's Review: "Ricki and The Flash" a mediocre family drama

Aug 13, 2015 04:03PM ● By Dan Metcalf

Meryl Streep in Ricki and the Flash - © Sony Pictures.

Ricki and The Flash (Sony/Tristar)

Rated PG - 13 for thematic material, brief drug content, sexuality and language.

Starring Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Mamie Gummer, Audra McDonald, Sebastian Stan, Rick Springfield, Ben Platt, Charlotte Rae, Rick Rosas, Gabriel Ebert, Nick Westrate, Hailey Gates.

Written by Diablo Cody.

Directed by Jonathan Demme.



If you’re sick of Meryl Streep and all the accolades she gets just for showing up on screen every year, there’s good news: Sometimes, she allowed to make a mediocre movie in which she can deliver a non-Oscar-worthy performance. Of course, a subpar performance from Streep is equivalent to gushing reviews for the rest of the acting world. Ricki and The Flash is one of those movies that won’t make the list of great Streep films (yes, there are a few), but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing.

Streep stars as Ricki Rendazzo, an aging singer in a rock band relegated to playing a regular gig at dive bar in Tarzana, Calif. Ricki’s world changes when she gets word that her estranged daughter Julie (Streep’s real-life daughter Mamie Gummer) is going through extreme psychological distress after her husband leaves her. Ricki heads to Indiana, where her wealthy ex-husband Pete (Kevin Kline) allows her to stay in his home to help bring Julie back from the brink. It turns out Ricki’s real name is Linda, and she left her family behind years ago to pursue her musical career. Besides Julie, she also left her sons Adam (Nick Westrate) and Josh (Sebastian Stan) behind. Josh is engaged to Emily (Hailey Gates).

As Ricki hangs around, Julie perks up. The relationship with her sons is strained, especially when Pete’s wife Maureen returns from visiting her sick father. Maureen eventually kicks Ricki out, and she returns to California to rejoin the band and strike up a romance with her lead guitarist Greg (Rick Springfield). When an invitation for Josh and Emily’s wedding comes, Ricki must decide whether to return to Indiana and risk further embarrassment.

Ricki and The Flash is a movie with a predictable premise and heartfelt intent. Streep’s pedestrian greatness is always present on screen, but the story and script (written by Diablo Cody) make Ricki and The Flash feel disjointed and inconsistent, especially in the final scene. The music is enjoyable, and Streep displays her commitment to her craft by providing all the vocals and some of the instrumentals in the movie. The “Flash” band is played by real ‘Rock n’ Roll’ professionals with impressive resumes, too.  

Rick Springfield also deserves a little credit for his role in the movie - both as a musician and actor. His portrayal is somewhat autobiographical, and you can sense the real conflict in his performance. 

As a parent, I have a hard time reconciling “following your dream” with abandoning your kids, so the lead character of Ricki is a little hard to fathom. There are a lot family issues that can’t be reconciled with a few musical numbers. Life isn’t like that, and all can’t be forgotten and forgiven just because Mom has a great cover band.

Ricki and The Flash Trailer