Susan Sarandon is more disturbing than delightful as a widowed mom with a near pathological need to be needed who moves to California to invade the life of her 30-something, unmarried, screenwriter daughter. The real writer/director, Lorene Scafaria, turns in a remarkably unbecoming passive-aggressive portrait of a challenging relationship, but seems to be under the impression she’s made a feel-good pic. Mom’s really more of an out-of-control controlling menace, yet the film has her bumbling her way into reuniting father & daughter; mother & son; brother & brother; gathering two romantic possibilities; even paying thousands for a near-stranger’s dream wedding. Something objectionable in every storyline, even as the film ticks off every structural ‘beat’ UCLA Film School has to offer. All shot with such glare-inducing brightness it makes the opening credits hard to read. Maybe to protect the innocent.
ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: Hollywood never gets the simplest cooking scene right. Yet here, the one honest moment in the entire pic comes via a properly made Toad-in-the-Hole.
WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: If you have to have a feel-good pic about a busybody who can’t help but poke her nose into everyone’s life (for the better), you could at least turn it into a delightful goof-fest of a musical like BELLS ARE RINGING/’60 with the inimitable Judy Holliday. (BTW, the Pop song cuts in THE MEDDLER are tooth-achingly bad.)