The Meddler (2015, Lorene Scafaria)

You never know if a feature-length movie about an annoying character is gonna be a good idea, but this one erred on the side of delight. Not a very strong storyline, more a character study of Sarandon’s meddling mom, who has to find new people to interfere with after daughter Rose Byrne (Sunshine, Marie Antoinette) goes off to New York for work. Sarandon and her new friend J.K. Simmons (“playing a Sam Elliott twin with a stellar mustache” per April Wolfe) are more than charismatic enough to carry the movie.

Writer/director Scafaria also made Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, wrote Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Before I forget who everyone was… stand-up comic Jerrod Carmichael as an Apple Genius who Sarandon tries to help get back into school… Cecily Strong (The Boss, The Bronze) as a friend whose wedding Sarandon pays for… Michael McKean as a pushy single guy who’s into Sarandon… Jason Ritter (Gravity Falls, Freddy vs. Jason) as Rose’s movie-star ex.

MZ Seitz’s rave review nails the emotional center:

The Meddler is a diminutive and misleading title for such an affecting, often profound film … In its heart, it’s a story about the lived experience of grief. Marnie is still dealing with the death of her husband, and Lori with her father. This dear man, Joe, is seen only in photographs, but he is the absent presence looming over both women and driving many of their choices. The script is filled with details so expertly observed and so rarely seen in Hollywood films that you suspect they came from experience. And they did. Writer-director Lorene Scafaria based the film on her and her mother’s experience after her father died.

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