The Meddler (2015) review by Jonathan Berk
The Meddler is a movie that could easily be looked over when scanning your cable guide. It’s name isn’t particularly attention grabbing, but I was in need of something a little lighter while recovering from surgery. Susan Sarandon shines in this Lorene Scafaria film with a great supporting performance from J.K. Simmons.
The Meddler is definitely a film to let control your life…at least for it’s runtime
Marnie (Susan Sarandon) moves to L.A. from New York after her husband’s death to be closer to her daughter, Lori (Rose Byrne). She finds comfort in meddling in the affairs of her daughter, and when that proves to be too challenging, anyone who will allow her to do so. The only life she won’t attempt to “fix” is her own and anytime anything comes along that could make her happy she tends to turn away.
As Marnie is the lead character, Susan Sarandon really gets a lot of opportunity to shine. She hits the comedy and the drama extremely well. Her character is initially annoying and it seems as though Lori will be the main, sympathetic character. Yet, Scafaria takes the initial annoying Marine and turns her into an endearing person who the audience starts to root for. It becomes clear early on that she’s not sure what to do with herself after losing her husband. It’s subtly introduced and it’s Scafaria’s ability to maneuver her story so naturally that really makes the film great.
The connection Marnie gets to make with several of the side characters creates some of the best memories. Whether it’s helping Freddy (Jerrod Carmichael), an Apple Genius Bar employee, get to school or planning and paying for Jillian’s (Cecily Strong) wedding, Marnie is always slightly endearing while being excessively intrusive. Her constant voicemail recordings to Lori where she both informs and instructs her daughter on her various meddling adventures. But it’s her connection with Zipper (J.K. Simmons) that is the most charming and life changing aspect of the film. Simmons really shines here as he usually does. The man’s range is insane as fans of the HBO series OZ will remember him as a white supremacist there and he has since played a variety of memorable roles from Juno’s father and of course J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi’s Spider-man movies.
The Meddler was a pleasant surprise. It’s funny, charming, and relatable. The story is small and touching with excellent performances. The Meddler earns the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.