Wondrous words, haywire hilarity, auspicious acting imbue writer/director Paul Weitz’s “Grandma” with a treasure trove of entertainment. Lily Tomlin as “Elle”, a bitingly brilliant poet; a woman whose partner of thirty-eight- years “Violet” has been dead for over a year; we meet Elle as she is caustically casting out her latest paramour, “Olivia” (Judy Greer); any hope of revival shrivels when Violet’s toothbrush is relegated to trash.
“Sage” (superb Julia Garner), Elle’s teenage granddaughter, needs money for an abortion and the action, flawlessly executed, takes the viewer on a day’s excursion, defining the stages of Elle’s life; the quest for finances (Elle has cut up her credit cards, a hostile slap at contemporary customs) leads this unlikely duo to sundry sources: irresponsible father (Nat Wolff); tattoo artist, “Deathy” (Laverne Cox) whose “ink” narrates Elle’s biography; revelatory scene with “Karl” (riveting portrayal by Sam Elliott) is the pulse and core of the film; concluding with a visit to her successful, contentious daughter “Judy” (Marcia Gay Harden). Weitz masterfully skirts weepy, maudlin sentimentality.
Lily Tomlin anchors her incredible performance with immaculate comedic timing; a lithesome, youthful physique; embracing her age (shunning plastic, age-defying processes) she is the archetype for aspiring grandmothers; a composite of indisputable self-assurance; at seventy-five, a razzle-dazzle, salty-tongued, spirited phenomena; this rose is still in full bloom.
THREE & 1/2 STARS!!!