I sincerely wanted to like Paul Weitz’s Moving On. It features two of America’s most beloved actresses Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as long-standing friends who meet up at the funeral of their mutual friend and decide to take revenge on the dead friend’s husband who had wronged Fonda or Tomlin. Keep guessing.
The narrative harbours a harvest satirical possibilities. It sounds off allusions to hefty subjects like enduring friendships and the temporal texture of loyalty and commitment. But we soon realize that director Paul Weitz just wants to use his sparkling-at-80 cast to create a joyous collage of comic content .
The film is committed to nothing more than a shallow reunion .It’s almost like what Lily Tomlin keeps saying repeatedly: stay out of trouble. ‘Trouble’ in the film’s context is any reference to the past.But Fonda’s Claire is very clear that she wants to sort out the past.
There is a mischievous aura to the funereal proceedings, almost like kids dropping in for the cake rather than the ache at the place of mourning.
What I liked was the crisp cutting rapport between Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. The latter comes across as far more effective for the very simple reason that Tomlin has all the one-liners retorts and quips while Jane Fonda plays the more troubled less articulate character.Her mumbles are mowe down.
I wish Fonda’s character had been given a more substantial shape in the largely-silly screenplay. She comes across as…ummm…repressed, as compared with Tomlin. Nonetheless the co-actresses whip up a frenzy of foamy laughter with their droll exchanges on friendship, grieving and murder.
There is also Richard Roundtree(once upon a time the first Black action hero in the Shaftseries) who is a charming accompanist as he joins Tomlin and Fonda on their vendetta trip.
I only wish the storytelling was more trippy. It all seems very prim and propah, almost starchy if not frigid.Even the plan to kill the dead woman’s closet-evil husband(the amazing Malcolm McDowell from Stanley Kubrick’s A Clock Work Orange) is inveigled by a script that cannot make up its mind whether it wants to enjoy some meanness , or kill it.
If at all Moving On is worth watching it is for the Tomlin-Fonda kinship with oscillates between recriminations and retribution.Ultimately this film is too slight to be a decent vehicle for the talented veteran actors, although admittedly they seem to be having fun.