We got free tickets to a screening of this film that I probably wouldn't have bothered to go to otherwise. I do tend to judge films by their posters and trailers and in this case neither have appealed to me.
Which is a shame, because I found this funny and highly enjoyable, even if it is only scoring less than 6 on IMDb. It's feel-good movie with some stand-out performances from Kristen Wiig in the lead, Annette Bening, and particularly Matt Dillon, playing a guy who might be a total flake, or might not. My favourite character was Ralph, played by Christopher Fitzgerald. Glee fans will also enjoy Darren Criss's performance.
The plot is fairly simple. Wiig plays Imogene, a playwright who never lived up to her potential, whose life comes unstuck. She winds up in a psych ward and gets put in the care of her mother who she has been estranged from for years. To make matters worse, this means she has to leave her 'successful', cool Manhattanite life to slum it back in her hometown on the New Jersey shore. But that forces her to confront her own failings and discover her family aren't all they seem after all.
So far, quite predictable. But there's more to it than you'd believe from my rubbish precis in the previous paragraph. It's a coming of age tale for a girl in her 30s taking stock of her life, and maybe that's what chimed with me, being a guy in my 30s reflecting at present on what I want to be doing with my life.
The jokes are reasonably sophisticated and aren't belaboured. In fact it's the throwaway prop gags and references that made me realise this was a better film than many. Stuck back in New Jersey with just the clothes she left behind when she left in the 90s, Imogene ends up wearing a Friends t-shirt. I thought that was funny and, in a way, authentic. That's just one example.
There are also some touching moments. Ralph makes a sheet-fort as a makeshift bedroom for Imogene, as her room is unavailable to her. There's also a moment later on that made the audience go 'Aw!', again involving Ralph. But it doesn't lapse into ridiculous schmaltz, although the ending felt a bit sudden and too perfect. Still, that's a minor gripe.
It's a feel-good movie and it made me feel good. So, job done.