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REVIEW: Grandma

Grandma Lily Tomlin

Directed by: Paul Weitz
Written by: Paul Weitz
Starring: Lily Tomlin, Julia Garner, Marcia Gay Harden and Sam Elliot

Grandma is a robust, compact vehicle for the boundless talent of Lily Tomlin.  She is so effortlessly funny and at times disarmingly sad here that it makes its faults easier to stomach.  The movie is set up as a series of vignettes involving Elle Reid (Tomlin) and her granddaughter Sage (Julia Garner) trying to raise $630 so Sage can have an abortion without telling her judgmental, ruthless mother (Marcia Gay Harden).  Though Grandma’s dialogue about abortion tends to be overly didactic, that it doesn’t punish, kill or judge Sage for wanting the procedure is admirable.

Elle doesn’t have the money on hand to give her granddaughter because she’s broke after paying off all her debt (and then cutting up her credit cards to make a wind chime), so she and Sage set out to raise the money.  First, they try the loser who got Sage pregnant (Nat Wolff), but he only has $50, and Elle has to hit him in the nuts with a hockey stick to get even that much out of him.  From there, the two go on a drive through Elle’s past in an effort to get the rest of the money before Sage’s appointment at 5:45 p.m. (They start off on their fundraising journey at about 9 a.m. that same day, when Sage shows up at her grandma’s house right after Elle had broken up with her girlfriend Olivia [Judy Greer]).

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