The Meddler (3 stars)

The Meddler

Susan Sarandon proves she’s still got it as the titular do-gooder in Lorene Scafaria’s second film

Being a chick flick with particular appeal for what the French charmingly call ‘women of a certain age’, this gently chucklesome tale of an adventurous widow who gets all up in everyone’s business is probably doomed at the box office since it is short on explosions, supernatural phenomena and vigilantes. But it is good fun for Susan Sarandon fans. Ms Susan is still rocking it, looking pretty fine in animal prints – that’s our girl – as a character who is endearingly oblivious to personal boundaries.

Her Marnie Minervini – inspired by writer-director Lorene Scafaria’s own mother – is a Jersey Girl (Senior Division), writ large. Left well-provided-for by her late, lamented husband, Marnie has relocated to LA to be near her only child. Rose Byrne as miserable daughter Lori is a TV writer on deadline with a comedy pilot (blatantly based on her family, which is very meta). Heartbroken over her break-up with a movie star, she’s in no mood for her mother’s constant chatty intrusions and need to be needed.

Marnie is the kind of woman who is the life of a party to which she was not actually invited, who unwittingly strays into a film shoot and ends up being in the movie, who with no effort engages rival admirers (JK Simmons and Michael McKean). While she’s unintentionally making an impact, she’s quite deliberately dispensing advice, money, practical help and kindness to assorted acquaintances. All of this is a distraction from her grief and loneliness, but her irrepressible optimism, generosity of spirit and journey of self-discovery will warm the hearts of many a mother and daughter. Plus she drives a red convertible Lexus, so what’s not to love?

Irritatingly or amusingly, depending on one’s mood, the ludicrously numerous plugs for the consumer electronics of a certain multinational tech corporation constitute the most shameless product placement we’ve seen since Brad Pitt stopped for a Pepsi while being pursued by zombies. But if that’s what it takes to get a cute little film like this made, then we’ll just have to live with it.

Selected release from Fri 24 Jun.

The Meddler

  • 3 stars
  • 2016
  • US
  • 1h 43min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Lorene Scafaria
  • Cast: Susan Sarandon, Rose Byrne, Michael McKean, JK Simmons
  • UK release: 24 June 2016

Marnie (Sarandon) is a newly-widowed, sixtysomething Jersey Girl who moves to LA to be near her only child, Lori (Byrne), a TV writer. Gently chucklesome chick flick with an irrepressible performance from Sarandon as the life-of-the-party Marnie, and so much shameless product placement that it's actually amusing.