'Grandma' Movie Review - Rolling Stone
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Prepare yourself for a Lily Tomlin tour de force

Lily TomlinLily Tomlin

Lily Tomlin and Julia Garner in 'Grandma.'

Sony Pictures Classics

Lily Tomlin works miracles. She’s comedy royalty whose best films (Nashville, The Late Show, All of Me, I Heart Huckabees) always cut deeper than a smile. But no Oscar. Maybe Grandma will do the trick. It’s a Tomlin tour de force.

Don’t get any ideas that Tomlin, 75, is playing some sweet old dearie fighting senility or terminal illness. Writer-director Paul Weitz (American Pie, About a Boy) plays to her strengths. As Elle Reid, a celebrated poet with a mouth on her, Tomlin takes on the world like the hypocrisy pit it is. Her longtime lesbian lover has died, and she’s just shown the door to a new, younger version (Judy Greer). That’s when Elle’s teen granddaughter, Sage (Julia Garner), announces she’s pregnant.

The film, a scrappy delight, is a no-bull hunt for “a reasonably priced abortion,” bringing broke Grandma in contact with the baby daddy (Nat Wolff, a hoot), Sage’s mom (Marcia Gay Harden, wow) and Karl (a superb Sam Elliott), a love from Elle’s past. Each encounter opens up feelings that Elle can’t laugh off. Tomlin, the sorceress, leaves you dazzled and devastated.

In This Article: Lily Tomlin


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