Silly Seniors: Our Review of ‘Bad Grandmas’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - October 06, 2017
Silly Seniors: Our Review of ‘Bad Grandmas’

Yeah, I’m just as surprised as you are…

I’ll be the first to admit that when I saw a screener for Bad Grandmas opening today at the Carlton here in Toronto I wanted to delete it just as fast and pretend that I never got the e-mail, but that’s not what we do here…and I’m actually glad.  While it wears out some tired comedic ruts, Bad Grandmas simply doesn’t try to be anything more than it actually is; a goofy, yet still kind of dark comedy that’s carried by a knowingly deadpan performance from its late star.

It’s small town life in southern USA as four grandmothers enjoy the years of their twilight playing cards and baking cakes but everything changes when one of them falls victim to a con man who just happens to be her very own son-in-law!  Taking matters into her own hands; Bobbi (Florence Henderson) tries to fix the problem at hand by confronting her son-in-law only making matters worse…because she accidentally kills him!  Before these sweet old ladies know it things go from bad to worse with the cops and the con men hot on their trail in hopes of getting a cool two hundred grand.  However the little old ladies with their wealth of life experience, are not as sweet  as they look and are ready for any and every problem that comes their way.

From co-writer/director Srikant Chellappa; Bad Grandmas doesn’t come anywhere close to reinventing the wheel but it’s also far from the dumpster fire that it looks like it is from the outside.  It has a decent structure and flow to it all while cracking the occasionally funny joke or sight gag.  Far from anything ever meant to be taken seriously, it’s a film that really does feel like the setup and the punch line never really find away to talk to each other and while it will sure as shit never be high art, I can’t say that it’s not well made.  As a low budget farce it plays out like that, keeping any unnecessary exposition to an absolute minimum  while evoking the occasional chuckle along the way because while it is 2017, your grandmother making a joke about the TV show Dexter right now feels like it is perfectly in line with the tone that is being set.  It’s Chellappa’s first fictional feature and while nothing goes on that isn’t above the bare minimum in story telling requirements here, no one is under the allusion that they are making Citizen Kane, and as far as I am concerned that actually counts for something, all be it not that much.

Granted this film still could have very easily descended into dumpster fire territory if not for a surprisingly good performance from Florence Henderson.  While I undoubtedly don’t think she wants to be remembered for this as her swan song from an acting standpoint, it’s a fun turn as she leans into the gonzo elements of it all with a fair bit of  aplomb.  This movie knows exactly what it is and doesn’t need anyone to try and steer it differently as she takes hold of the reigns.  She drives all the comedic elements of the film with a can-do attitude and it works pretty well.  Pam Grier is fine as her sassy best friend and Judge Reinhold is never really all that scary but we do take him seriously as a dirtbag while Randall Batinkoff is fine as the detective on the trail of something hinky.  None of it really makes any sense to be honest but that’s OK as comedic old ladies up to no good is just as good as anything else that they could have thrown at the screen.

While Bad Grandmas isn’t anything that will be on anyone’s MUST see list, if you are in the mood for a little counterprogramming this weekend you could do a hell of a lot worse.

 

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David Voigt, has been a lover of cinema all his life and an actual underpaid critic for a solid 5 years covering everything that the city of Toronto has to offer. He was a content manager in video distribution industry before that and his love of all things cinema goes back to his first moments in awe looking up at the big screen. His 12 years of experience on the home entertainment side of the business have provided him with a unique view on what is worth spending your hard earned entertainment dollars on. Combine that with his unquestioned love of film, David should be your only stop to find out about the best in film, not only in Toronto, but worldwide.