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"MOVING ON"
(2023) (Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin) (R)


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QUICK TAKE:
Dramedy: Two octogenarians attend their college friend's funeral, with one intent on killing that woman's husband for something that happened nearly half a century ago.
PLOT:

Claire (Jane Fonda) has traveled to California to attend her long-time friend Joyce's funeral, and while she's cordial to her former college friend's daughter, Allie (Sarah Burns), she informs Joyce's husband, Howard (Malcolm McDowell), that she's going to kill him due to something that happened between them nearly a half-century ago.

And she hopes to enlist the help of Joyce's snarky college roommate, Evelyn (Lily Tomlin), to do the deed, all while ending up reunited with her first ex-husband, Ralph (Richard Roundtree).

OUR TAKE: 3.5 out of 10

Back in 1980, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin teamed up with Dolly Parton to play female employees who decided enough is enough and plotted not only to get even with their sexist boss (played by Dabney Coleman) and his demeaning behavior but also boot him out of their company.

The result was a fun, funny, and entertaining bit of female empowerment escapism back when most women were having to deal with such men and such issues in the workplace. Inklings and attempts at a sequel came and went over the subsequent decades -- even up through the late 2010s -- but nothing ever came to fruition.

In the meantime, Fonda and Tomlin reunited for the Netflix comedy "Grace and Frankie" which just wrapped up last year. Thus, the thought of having those two in a dramedy about taking down another male cad would seem promising, right?

Alas, the only good thing I can say about their latest pairing, "Moving On," is that you'll be able to do just that and instantly forget you wasted nearly ninety minutes of your life watching it. Flat, lacking in laughs, and not only tonally uneven but also tone-deaf about its subject matter, the film -- from writer/director Paul Weitz -- is a misfire pretty much any way one looks at it.

The film opens with Fonda's character, Claire, arriving in California not only to attend her long-time friend's funeral but also matter-of-factly inform that woman's husband, Howard (Malcolm McDowell), that she's going to kill him. Like, literally murder him. So, we're obviously dealing with a comedy blacker in nature than what Fonda and her cohorts were plotting in "9 to 5."

Unfortunately, it's not black enough for heading down that path, and while sexism in the workplace is no laughing matter, it's a walk in the park compared to what Weitz eventually gets around to explaining as the reason behind Claire's behavior -- the fact that Howard drunkenly raped her 46 years ago.

Yeah, that and the subsequent and decades-long PTSD aren't exactly a good basis for comedy -- black or not -- but the filmmaker continues down that path, playing most everything fairly lightly, including a somewhat whimsical score to highlight just that. All of which results in the aforementioned tonal problems.

Tomlin's snarky character, Evelyn, shows up and interrupts the funeral and eventually sarcastically agrees to help her old college friend do the deed (rather than, in a recent alternate cinematic universe, go watch some football in "80 For Brady"). But the screenplay does next to nothing with the premise once that pairing is made and leaves the actresses - and everyone else - high and dry.

Along the way, Claire is reunited with her first ex-husband, Ralph (Richard Roundtree), and they quickly end up back in the sack, but that subplot essentially goes nowhere after that beyond her finally telling him -- in not so many words -- that the past trauma was the reason for their failed marriage.

Emerald Fennell's "Promising Young Woman" managed to tackle the revenge for rape issue quite well in terms of creativity, but it wasn't a light comedy. "Moving On" isn't either - at least in terms of successfully generating laughs - and simply can't balance that subject matter with its tone and thus earns a score of just 3.5 out of 10.




Posted March 17, 2023


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