Moving On: The BRWC Review. By Rudie Obias.
After co-starring together in the TV show Grace and Frankie on Netflix for seven seasons, as well as hit movies like 9 to 5 and most recently 80 For Brady, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin are joining forces again in the dark comedy Moving On. The pair have proven time and time again that they have great comedic timing, as well as chemistry out the wazoo, while the movie shows that friendships can last for decades, but so can plotting the perfect revenge.
Written and directed by Paul Weitz (American Pie, About A Boy), Moving On follows Claire (Fonda), an elderly grandmother who returns to her hometown of Los Angeles to attend her old friend from college Joyce’s funeral. Once at the wake, Claire threatens to kill Howard (Malcolm McDowell), her deceased friend’s husband, who wronged her 46 years earlier. With the help of Evelyn (Tomlin), another old friend from college and Joyce’s former lover, the pair plan to get a gun and commit the not-so-perfect crime.
In a way, Moving On is an elderly coming-of-age movie—only with the time of your life that is much older than teenagers and young adults. Figuring out and navigating through life is a lifelong journey and doesn’t just mean adjusting to your adolescence, but rather adjusting to your next stages of life. In this case, Claire and Evelyn are dealing with loss, trauma, and regret—things people of all ages go through during life.
The pair both lost a good friend, their identities, and their happiness at a young age, while they both had to deal with recovering for decades afterwards. The source of their collective unhappiness is, in fact, Howard, who is smug, uncaring, manipulative, and just flat out mean (McDowell is great shortcut casting in this regard). To process this grief and trauma, they have to go on this new journey of discovery to confront the past, in this case Howard, and, in fact, move on—as the title suggests.
However, while the premise is strong and the cast is sharp, Moving On lacks a certain bite and wit to give it a complete recommendation, but rather a mixed one. Yes, the story is worth telling. And yes, the acting is superb. Even the subplot involving rekindling an old romance between Claire and her ex-husband Ralph (Richard Roundtree) is cute and poignant. The cast and themes lift the material more than the sum of its parts, while the movie as a whole doesn’t have the punch it needs to really bring everything together—especially at a mere 85 minutes it feels a bit limp.
Overall, Moving On has its moments, for sure. Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Malcolm McDowell, and Richard Roundtree are all great in their roles, while their performances truly elevate. The themes of aging and regret aren’t usually tackled in movies, so it’s a breath of fresh air that they’re being explored in such a lighthearted, albeit black and grim, comedy. While the film stumbles from time-to-time with its pacing and design, Moving On stays with you—thanks to its winning all-star cast.
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