First Hit: The film had funny bits and it was Susan Sarandon’s performance that held it together.
When the film opens, Marnie (Sarandon) has been a widow for over a year. Her husband left her with enough money that she doesn’t have to worry about any financial matters and she's not dealt with her husbands ashes yet. She's moved out to Los Angeles to be near her daughter Lori (Rose Byrne) who has just broken up with her boyfriend Jacob (Jason Ritter).
Lori is devastated by the breakup and therein-lies one of the downfalls of this film, we really don’t know why. And even in the short scenes those two have together, there are no clues.
Because we know nothing of their relationship, we are expected to believe that the depressed malaise Lori carries around is valid. Unfortunately, I didn’t buy it. This could be the issue of the screenplay, director, or actor.
With her daughter being depressed, Marnie is ready, willing and able to meddle in her daughter's life. She calls Lori at least 15 times a day and leaves long meandering messages, tries to tell her daughter what to do with her life, and shows up at her house unannounced. She smothers her daughter and appears clueless that she is acting this way.
When Lori heads to New York for work, Marnie suggests going with her. Lori says no, so Marnie starts to meddle in Lori’s friends lives. The difference is that they like it, although some of the attraction is that she has money and seems willing to spend it on them, including a wedding for a lesbian couple.
She also transports her Apple Genius Bar helper Freddy/Fredo (Jerrod Carmichael) to his school classes. All the things she does are for other people, and it's clear she’s not facing her own deep sorrow. She happens to meet Zipper (J.K. Simmons) who is a retired police officer and his accepting kind nature helps her begin to see a next step, which means moving along with her life.
Sarandon is very strong and effective as the meddling Marnie. Sarandon gives Marnie a strength of character and disarming charm that works well in this film. Byrne is OK, however I never bought her devastation from breaking up with Jacob. It seemed more like she was acting as a character versus playing and embodying the situational circumstance of the character. Carmichael was very good as the Apple Genius Bar guy who wants to improve his life. Simmons seemed to channel his best Sam Elliot with the mustache, deep voice and calm demeanor. Not that it was bad, but it just seemed like Elliot could have been substituted with little difference. Lorene Scafaria wrote and directed this film and it would seem she has had some experience with a “meddler” in her own life.
Overall: Despite some of the film's faults, it was entertaining and at times very funny.