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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Grandma

February 7th, 2016

Grandma - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Video on Demand


Grandma was Lily Tomlin's first starring role in nearly 30 years. She clearly wasn't rusty and there was even some Oscar-buzz for her performance. That didn't pan out. Is it as good as its reviews? Or was nostalgia at play here? Were critics just so happy Lily Tomlin was back that their judgment was clouded?

The Movie

The movie begins with Elle breaking up with her girlfriend, Olivia. Or to be more accurate, Olivia is breaking up with Elle. Elle is busted up over this, but tries to play it cool by claiming the relationship meant nothing.

Shortly afterward, Elle's teenage granddaughter Sage shows up. She's in need of money, $630 to be exact. Why? She's pregnant. She's pregnant and she only has $18 to her name. Sadly, Elle has just $43. She also cut up her credit cards, because she was tired of being in debt. Sage needs the $630 by the end of the day, and asking her mother is completely out of the question, so Elle and her head out for help.

The first stop is a woman's health clinic. Or it used to be a woman's health clinic. Now it is a coffee shop. Elle and Sage grab a coffee and talk about their next plan, for a little while. Elle manages to get kicked out. Next stop, Cam's house. Cam's Sage's boyfriend and the one who knocked her up. He was supposed to pay for the abortion, but hasn't given Sage any money and is not answering her calls. Elle and Cam get into an argument, an argument that ends when Elle hits Cam in the balls with a hockey stick. At this point, Sage is beginning to regret coming to her Grandmother, who seems to have anger issues.

Elle does have an idea. Her friend, Deathy, owes her $400. Good news, for the first time during this entire movie, Elle has a conversation with someone and it doesn't devolve into an argument. Bad news, Deathy is broke. She does offer to give Elle a tattoo, and a little bit of cash. Elle decides that maybe selling some of her first editions will get the money Sage needs, but the streak of constructive conversations ends at once, because Olivia is at the box store and they get into another huge fight.

Elle does have one more idea, a really bad one, her ex-husband.

Grandma is a very dialogue-driven movie. I could probably walk you through the entire plot and it wouldn't ruin anyone's enjoyment of the movie, because the key to its success is the dialogue and the actor's delivery. Fortunately, this film has an amazing script and a cast that is up to the task. Clearly Lily Tomlin is the star of the movie, but Julia Garner is in nearly every scene with her. The pair are both stellar in this movie and they have incredible chemistry together. Additionally, there's not a single weak link in the supporting cast.

I do have one small complaint. The film is only 79 minutes long, with credits. It's about 75 minutes long without. I liked the movie too much for it to be this short.

The Extras

Extras are really good for a limited release and start with an audio commentary track. Participants include the writer / director, Paul Weitz; star, Lily Tomlin; co-star, Julia Garner; and supporting actor, Sam Elliott. There is also a 21-minute Q&A session with Paul Weitz, Lily Tomlin, and Sam Elliott. The Blu-ray has those two extras, as well as a 25-minute long making of featurette. That's not a ton of extras, but good for a limited release.

The Blu-ray costs $25 and the DVD costs $20. That's inline with other limited releases.

The Verdict

Grandma is Pick of the Week material and watching it made me angry that Lily Tomlin wasn't nominated for an Oscar. The film was almost completely ignored during Awards Season. Hopefully it will find an audience on the home market as the DVD or Blu-ray are certainly worth picking up.

Filed under: Video Review, Grandma, Sam Elliott, Judy Greer, Marcia Gay Harden, Lily Tomlin, Paul Weitz, Laverne Cox, Nat Wolff, Julia Garner