Peace, Love and Misunderstanding

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +2

Content: -4

Jane Fonda, Catherine Keener, Elizabeth Olsen, Nat Wolff. Drama. Directed by Bruce Beresford.

FILM SYNOPSIS: For uptight Manhattan lawyer Diane (Oscar-nominee Catherine Keener), crazy means driving her teenage son Jake (Nat Wolff) and daughter Zoe (Elizabeth Olsen) to Woodstock to visit their grandmother Grace (Fonda). The crazy part is that the kids have never met Grace. In fact, Diane hasn't spoken to her mother in twenty years. Grace is the epitome of the term “hippie”: she stages protests and hootenannies in the town square, smokes (and sells) a lot of dope, and howls at the moon once a month with her goddess-worshipping girlfriends. But what’s meant to be a weekend getaway turns into a summer adventure of romance, music, family secrets, and self-discovery.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Jane Fonda plays a woman who sold grass at her daughter’s wedding and still talks about the good old days of Jerry Garcia and peace, love and whatever. Ms. Fonda shines as the Flower-Power free spirit (she’s Auntie Mame with a bong). The actress is pitch perfect, giving the production an airy substance.

The rest of the cast is also in tune with their characters and director Bruce Beresford balances dramatic character development with comic touches. It’s a movie about people, not 3D-CGI-special effects. Nobody wears a superhero cape. Tie-die shirts yes, but no capes.

Alas, the film’s R-rated content should raise eyebrows, not just about its suitability for kids and teens, but as a representation of what society now accepts as, well, acceptable.

Ms. Fonda’s Grace not only sells pot, she gets her teenaged granddaughter and grandson wasted on the stuff. In fact, pot smoking happens frequently in this film, and although Grace tells the kids not to use anything more potent, the fact remains that everything she does with weed is illegal – growing it, selling it, partaking of it, and giving it to minors.

Hollywood, as a whole, does not agree with the laws concerning marijuana, so they just ignore them, going so far as to ridicule those who accept the law. I only mention it because I see a lot of pot smoking in the movies, mostly by the films’ protagonists. There’s never a downside to this drug’s use in movies. Anybody else find that message disturbing?

Moving past the drug acceptance, there’s also the free love, where not only do most of the characters have sex outside marriage - one lady while she is still married, later learning she has had sex with a man who also had sex with her mother - but these people have sex on the first date. Protection use or not, these characters never seem to consider the emotional fallout from such an action. One might want to reconsider having casual sex with an old hippy.

The film’s characters are not people governed by social standards, but then the film makes it clear that generally, none of secular America adheres to social standards. Though there is some Lifetime Network-like conflict, basically it’s a lightweight salute to free choice, its heavy-duty messages about peace and forgiveness going up in a puff of smoke.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
IFC Films

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: Three or four obscenities.

Profanity: Other than the occasional oh-my-God, I caught no misuse of God’s name.

Violence: None

Sex: There’s a great deal of sexual discussion and two implied sexual affairs, one between a teen couple, the other by a not-yet-divorced woman and a man she barely knows.

Nudity: We see an old skinny dipper jump into a lake and another old bare hippy posing for a portrait.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Lots of pot smoking, and the film indicates that teens are introduced to pot by their grandmother.

Other: None

Running Time: 96 minutes
Intended Audience: Mature viewers

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