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Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Movie Review: Peace, Love & Misunderstanding (2011)

Peace, Love & Misunderstanding
Cast: Jane Fonda, Catherine Keener, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Elizabeth Olsen, Chace Crawford, Kyle MacLachlan, Rosanna Arquette
Genre: Comedy-Drama
U.S Box Office Gross: (limited release) over $542,000

Plot: An uptight New York City lawyer takes her two teenage daughters to her hippie mother's farmhouse update for a family vacation

Muszynski's Script & Beresford's Uninspiring Direction Wastes Talents Of Cast'

If, unlike me, you were born in the 1960s or were around during that period and all that 'free love' stuff, then you will have come across hippies, flower children and free spirits, activists and artists, some - or most of whom also took drugs and were as high as a kite. Well, Peace, Love & Misunderstanding is that film that is just that and more, surrounded by a cast of well, boring and cliched types.

A husband calls time on their marriage and his wife packs up all of her stuff and takes her teenage kids with her, flees from the city and reconnects with her bohemian and spiritual mother, Grace. She hadn't seen her daughter and neither have they been on speaking terms, since Diane busted her mum when she tried to sell Weed at her son's wedding. The son is the shy one, the daughter is the grouchy one and the mother is stiff and who needs to loosen up. Along the way, each of these family members connects and reconnect with each other and find love, with the young butcher for the daughter and the older, sensitive and hunky musician/furniture maker played by Jeffery Dean Morgan.

Australian director Bruce Beresford, who did Driving Miss Daisy, approaches this romantic comedy-drama with none of the spark or purpose to boost its cast members. Meanwhile, Catherine Kenner, coming off the so-called travesty that is 2002's Death to Smoochy, she fared a tad better in Friends With Money, & she did okay here as the conservative mother to Jane Fonda's free-spirited Grace, but Kenner is not leading female material. The casting overall is not bad and the film would have benefited a great deal by having a more familiar and recognisable female actress than Kenner as the lead, but they deserved a screenplay which is much more fulfilling and entertaining. 

The screenplay by Joseph Muszynski and Christina Mengert, though was not as sentimental as I found it to be, was just ponderous with no real surprises to speak of with production values on the side of a TV movie. The arguments, conflicts, bust-ups have no adverse or profound effect, the characters never really vent, rage, scream & its potency just wasn't grand. The blandness and trite nature of the material stifled the acting. And yet whilst some films of this type still manage to get by without having much to offer, there just wasn't enough in this movie that made it passable, let alone worth remembering. It was harmless, but verging on trite with a story that is bland and not very entertaining to sit through. 

& despite the Javier Bardem resemblance in the look-a-like department, Jeffery Dean Morgan was slightly charming and as carpenter/musician, Jude, he has the thankless task of being the male eye candy for Keener's Diane and eliciting some warmth. Although most would pinpoint Elizabeth Olsen and one-third of the Olsen sisters turning in the star performance as vegetarian Zoe who falls for Chace Crawford's Cole. 

But for the performances, Peace, Love & Misunderstanding as a movie itself is too trite and humdrum, and that is a shame because I actually liked the casting. 

Final Verdict:

It has good intentions and it tries to put across this safe and nice image and is very pleasant, but at the same time, it's too tepid and stale as a movie and it just doesn't offer more to make it memorable. 

Too underwhelming that doesn't offer or do anything to make it stand out, Peace, Love & Misunderstanding just cannot quite find its groove.


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