The Last Word
A cranky old control freak (Shirley MacLaine) dragoons a journalist (Amanda Seyfried) into preparing her obituary now, while she’s still alive—except that the writer can’t find anybody with anything nice to say about the old battle-ax. Like 2015’s Grandma with Lily Tomlin, the movie’s chief pleasure—its only one, in fact—is watching MacLaine and Seyfried in action. That alone is enough to make us wish we could overlook Stuart Ross Fink’s smug and smarmy script. But we can’t; it’s just too contrived, at its most banal when it thinks it’s being profound, and it doesn’t add up on any real level. The whole movie is a concerto of squawking false notes. Sometimes the locations don’t even seem to match, as if the company suddenly had to shoot somewhere else (maybe that’s director Mark Pellington’s fault). J.L.