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MERYL STREEP IN RICKI AND THE FLASH

2015 rating: **
Family squabbles can be a nerve-wracking chore, for everyone involved. And that's the word of the day here... involved. Just imagine you hardly know the bickering clan, and are stuck, right off the bat, inside arguments that have more weight than can be lifted by the one person you're supposed to center on, feel for or side with. In this case it's a wannabe has-been rock n' roll singer... that is, she wants to be a has-been but actually, never-was...

And in the title role, Meryl Streep is given potential to not only cross the line, but to move it along to fit her unpredictable rhythm: to hell with everyone else. She's even a staunch Right Winger, which holds (ultimately wasted) potential for arguments and opinions ala Archie Bunker that can give her a limitless rein of blunt terror. But Ricki's really just a singer in a mediocre bar band, still being judged for, years earlier, taking off on the family; and she refuses to dress normally, not even during a big finale wedding.

Streep's real life daughter Mamie Gummer as Julie, recently dumped and suffering depression, is so high-strung and opinionated her wild mother fails to be as unpredictable as intended, visually contrasting with ex-husband Kevin Kline's mansion and hardly lifting us above the vapid drama. Meanwhile, 1980's rocker Rick Springfield (who was an actor before coveting "Jessie's Girl") plays the super nice guy musician in Ricki's corner. And that's part of the problem...

Our heroine has very few enemies or obstacles within her "uphill climb" as a stranger in a strange land. By the end, this FLASH seems more like a reason for Streep to rock out in-between Lifetime Channel style melodrama, failing to connect with the viewing audience the way like she does that rowdy barroom crowd: they truly adore a woman that we hardly get to know.
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