The Last Word

the last word 2So, Harriet (Shirley MacLaine) likes things done a certain way. She gets so impatient with those who can’t follow her instructions that she often winds up having to do everything herself as she frequently pushes her gardener, cook, and hairdresser aside. So it should come as not surprise that she would want final say on her own obituary.

Enter Anne (Amanda Seyfried), the aspiring writer who Harriet hires to write her obituary. It’s not an easy job. Not just because Harriet is a demanding micro-manager. Despite all her considerable success, everyone Anne interviews about her-even her priest- hates her. So an 81 year-old who’s spent her life being nasty to people sets out to use the time she has left to rewrite her own history, dragging the almost-always exasperated Anne along for the ride.

If you’ve heard of this movie at all, by now you’ve probably heard that it’s pretty bad. And it really kind of is. But I honestly think there is a really good idea for a movie hidden somewhere within this unapologetically trite screenplay. One of the movie’s better scenes features a hilariously confident Harriet barging in on an independent radio station making a shockingly effective case for why she should be hired as a DJ. They give her a chance and it’s kind of awesome.

the last wordIn the right hands, a dramedy featuring the 82 year-old MacLaine playing an unlikely host of a radio show for hipsters could be a lot of fun, which The Last Word generally isn’t. More importantly though, making this subplot the actual plot might have given the movie some much-needed focus. Because for a movie about making every moment count, The Last Word has an astonishing number of throwaway scenes and uninspired subplots.

So in a comedy with no real focus except that Life is Precious So Don’t Waste It, it falls on its stars to keep it watchable. And although “watchable” may be a strong word for a movie like this, MacLaine’s still got it. Actually, to carry any movie in your 80s is pretty impressive and I give her full credit for finding a way to breathe some life into a character that would otherwise have been too vaguely written to be interesting. Seyfried isn’t exactly bad so much as she just doesn’t do anything to really help make Anne stand out from any of the other Millennials who have learnt valuable and unexpected life lessons from seniors in the movies lately.

MacLaine does impressive wok but neither the script or her co-stars are there to back her up.



13 thoughts on “The Last Word

  1. Widdershins

    Bugger, I was hoping this would be good. Still, I’ll probably watch it on DVD because, Shirley MacLaine! 😀 I’ve probable seen every movie she’s ever made, even those early bikini walk-ons. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Matt Post author

      Oh that’s cool, you’re probably a bigger fan than me then. I don’t think I’ve seen any of her recent movies. So I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on The Last Word once you’ve seen it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. tubularsock

    Matt, if a movie needs to be rewritten to make it palpable,Tubularsock doesn’t care who the “star” happens to be. Junk it and just eat the synthetic buttered popcorn! Thanks for the heads up.


      1. tubularsock

        Tubularsock has that same proclivity. But so far, NOT ONE Academy Award has come my way! Damn!

        But Tubularsock does trust your movie judgment and artful prose of warning. Thanks.


  3. Stephanie Ward

    It’s a shame this wasn’t better. Even though Shirley MacLaine always seems to play a similar character, she’s always a delight to watch.


  4. Pingback: What I’ve Been Reading & Blogger Links – The Eclectic Scribe

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