Ricki and the Flash Parent Review
Sympathetic to those, like Ricki, who have mistakes they wish they could be forgiven for, this movie will offer little solace to those who have actually been left behind to pick up the pieces.
What would you be willing to sacrifice to achieve your life ambition? For Ricki (Meryl Streep) the answer is… everything. So, about twenty years ago she packed her bags and headed to LA to purse her dream of becoming a rock star.
Today, Ricki’s reality doesn’t quite match what she imagined. She, and the other aging members of The Flash, are the house band at a lackluster bar where she plays covers of more famous performers’ hits while rebuffing the romantic overtures of her lead guitarist (Rick Springfield). Her adoring fans are a small, assorted mix of equally old locals, along with a few bored young adults attempting to escape with drink and dance. In order to make ends meet (and even so she has had to file for bankruptcy), Ricki’s day job is a cashier at a grocery store.
It isn’t until she receives a desperate phone call from her ex-husband Pete (Kevin Kline) that Ricki looks back. Apparently their daughter Julie (Mamie Gummer) is having a terrible time coming to terms with the news of her husband’s infidelity and demand for a divorce. Because his present wife Maureen (Audra McDonald) is away caring for her dying father, Pete needs Ricki’s help with the now suicidal young woman.
When Ricki arrives at Pete’s palatial home in Indianapolis, she discovers more than just his income bracket and Julie’s marital status have changed while she’s been away. Her daughter has also struggled with anger over being abandoned as a child, and her hostility shows the instant she lays eyes on her deadbeat mother. Ricki’s other two kids, Josh (Sebastian Stan) and Adam (Nick Westrate), have chosen to keep their lives secret from her as well. One has neglected to tell her he is engaged (likely so she won’t show up at the wedding) and the other hasn’t confessed that he is gay—because he’s pretty sure she won’t understand.
It is a volatile situation and Ricki responds to it in her usual way—with rebellion. Encouraging her daughter to skip therapy, make charges on her ex-husband’s credit card and smoke some marijuana (Pete gets involved in this too), she is soon getting results better than Julie’s doctors and their prescription medications could have hoped for. But her unorthodox approach is shut down when Maureen returns and starts practicing more traditional mothering skills. And that leaves the no-longer-needed Ricki to head back to California where, like it or not, she begins to take stock of what is, what could have been, and what she has actually accomplished with her life.
Perhaps better named Redeeming Ricki, this movie mixes messages about regrets and second chances with mentions of drug abuse, a smattering of strong profanities, implied sexual relations and ample amounts of crude comments and sexual innuendo. Meryl Streep puts in a convincing portrayal, plus performs the many popular songs featured in the film. Fans of Rick Springfield will undoubtedly appreciate his appearance, even if the role seems to mirror some of the up-and-downs of the singer/actor’s personal career path.
The script is sympathetic to those, like Ricki, who have mistakes they wish they could be forgiven for. And thanks to a somewhat contrived wrap-up, complete with a fun musical crescendo, the story has a happy ending.
However, the feel-good starts to fade with closer inspection. Ricki’s character really does nothing throughout the film to make amends for the pains she has forced her family members to endure because of her selfish decisions. Instead it is the good graces of those who surround her that eventually allows her lost soul to find peace. And, although she does experience negative consequences, the sentimental conclusion almost validates Ricki’s poor choices. For spouses and children who have actually been left behind to pick up the pieces of broken relationships, this movie probably won’t offer much empathy or solace.Directed by Jonathan Demme. Starring Meryl Streep, Sebastian Stan, Kevin Kline . Running time: 101 minutes. Theatrical release August 7, 2015. Updated May 12, 2016
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Ricki and the Flash here.
Ricki and the Flash Parents Guide
Ricki struggles with many past decisions in her life. What do family members and friends around her do to help her overcome this “baggage”? What does Ricki give in return? Do you think there are times when we need to forgive someone, even if they don’t seem to deserve it?
How are wealthy people portrayed in this film? Is that a fair depiction? Hollywood films often show people with money as being snobbish or dishonest. Is there an irony in this?
Remember the song “Jessie’s Girl”? Rick Springfield, who won a Grammy Award for the big hit in the 1980s, plays the guitarist, Greg. Rick also starred in the soap opera General Hospital.
From the Studio:
Three-time Academy Award (R) winner Meryl Streep goes electric and takes on a whole new gig - a hard-rocking singer/guitarist - for Oscar (R)-winning director Jonathan Demme and Academy Award (R)-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody in the uplifting comedy Ricki and the Flash. In a film loaded with music and live performance, Streep stars as Ricki, a guitar heroine who gave up everything for her dream of rock-and-roll stardom, but is now returning home to make things right with her family. Streep stars opposite her real-life daughter Mamie Gummer, who plays her fictional daughter; Rick Springfield, who takes on the role of a Flash member in love with Ricki; and Kevin Kline, who portrays Ricki’s long-suffering ex-husband. © Tristar