Grandma, we love you. Grandma, we do.
Yes, I couldn’t help but start with with a reference to that track. After all, how many other films am I going to review with this same title, between now and my old age when I’ve reached the same point in my lifespan as grannies?
Lily Tomlin is the titular character, best known to some as Elle, and taking in a day in her life, it begins with her breaking up with her latest lesbian lover, Olivia (Judy Greer), when, soon after, Elle’s granddaughter, Sage (Julia Garner), turns up needing money for an abortion after things didn’t go to plan with her feckless boyfriend, Cam (Nat Wolff).
In a bid to raise the $630 to go through with it, their journey takes in chats and/or confrontations with coffee shop owner Chau (John Cho), tattooist Deathy (Laverne Cox), Elle’s past heterosexual love Karl (Sam Elliott), Sage’s mother Judy (Marcia Gay Harden) and bookshop owner Carla (Elizabeth Peña), sadly in one of her last films before she passed away in October 2014 after suffering cirrhosis of the liver.
Grandma is like a road trip without a lot of road, since she’s mostly heading around town. Elle is an embittered poet who cut up her credit cards and turned them into a wind chime. She’s also as embarrassing as hell! She says what she thinks, including telling Sage’s slightly-bearded ne’er-do-well boyfriend that his face looks like an armpit.
The film is regularly humourous and the brief running time means that some elements of Elle’s life crop up without explanation, but they’re things that don’t NEED explanation. Far too many films run on far too long. Rarely does a film need to last more than two hours, especially any of those nonsense superhero movies. To me, 105 minutes is the optimum length for a film, but even then, some are shorter yet need cutting down.
Overall, I didn’t *love* Grandma, but I did like it a lot. And also a hell of a lot more than the godawful warbling from St Winifred’s School Choir, which also introduced a never-waiting world to Sally Lindsay, whether they wanted her to be introduced to them or not.
The film is presented in the original 1.85:1 theatrical anamorphic widescreen ratio and looks as good as a DVD can do. The film hasn’t been released on Blu-ray, so a DVD is as good as it’ll get. As usual, the DVD looks a little soft compared to the clarity a Blu-ray could provide, but other than that, there are no issues.
The audio is Dolby Digital 5.1, but there’s just dialogue and occasional music pieces. Well, you knew it wasn’t a special FX movie…
The extras are as follows:
- Q&A (20:08): with Lily Tomlin, Sam Elliott, director Paul Weitz, and moderated by Pete Hammond who, at one point, seems to forget around 6-7 mins in that he’s got the microphone that Weitz needs to talk into, so you can barely hear him. There’s an interesting question about potential ad-libs between Tomlin and Elliott in their scene.
- Trailer (2:01): In 1.85:1, as you’d expect.
- Audio description: Does what it says on the tin.
- Audio commentary: with Lily Tomlin, Sam Elliott, Julia Garner and director Paul Weitz.
The main menu just a static image of the two leads set against a random short piece of music that wasn’t in the film. Shazam told me it was Altitude Compensation by Aly & Fila, although it wasn’t. This is the same issue as Sony’s The Night Before, so it’s like whoever made the menu had no access to any content from the film. Very bizarre.
There are subtitles and languages in a fair few apiece, all listed at the bottom of the review. Chapters are slightly more than the usual amount you get on most discs – since a lot of distributors skimp on a mere 12. There are 16, and as I often say, I like an average of one every five minutes at least. Here, given the short running time, for once my wish is fulfilled!
Grandma is out now on DVD, and click on the packshot for the full-size image.
Running time: 75 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures
Released: April 4th 2016
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Languages: English, Spanish
Subtitles: English for the hard of hearing, Danish, Finnish, Hindi, Norwegian, Polish, Spanish, Swedish
Disc Format: DVD9
Director: Paul Weitz
Producers: Terry Dougas, Andrew Miano and Paul Weitz
Screenplay: Paul Weitz
Music: Joel P West
Elle: Lily Tomlin
Sage: Julia Garner
Olivia: Judy Greer
Young Man: Carlos Miranda
Chau: John Cho
Cam: Nat Wolff
Deathy: Laverne Cox
Tattoo Artist: Aaron Bilyeu
Carla: Elizabeth Peña
Bonobo Customer: Colleen Camp
Karl: Sam Elliott
Ian: Mo Aboul-Zelof
Judy: Marcia Gay Harden
Wendy: Meg Crosbie
Jill: Sarah Burns
Mom: Missy Doty
Dad: Don McManus
Kid: Willem Miller
Sister: Skya Chanadet
Doctor: Lauren Tom
Nurse: Kelsey Scott
Receptionist: Marlene Martinez
Mechanic: Reggie Watkins
Omid: Amir Talai
Mike: Frank Collison
Francesca: Judy Geeson
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.