'Grandma': Star Lily Tomlin overdoes the crusty routine

The cast is uniformly good in the film, which centers on a crotchety poet who embarks on an all-day odyssey with her granddaughter. The film co-stars Nat Wolff, Laverne Cox, and Sam Elliott.

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    Left to right: Julia Garner as Sage and Lily Tomlin as Elle in 'Grandma'.
    Courtesy of Aaron Epstein/Sony Pictures Classics
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Lily Tomlin may not be the whole show in writer-director Paul Weitz’s overly schematic “Grandma,” but she certainly seizes center stage. She plays Elle, a crotchety poet who recently lost her partner of 38 years and has just broken up with the much younger woman (Judy Greer) she dismisses as a “footnote.” 

When Elle’s granddaughter Sage (Julia Garner) shows up, needing $630 to pay for an abortion scheduled for that afternoon, the two embark on an all-day odyssey involving Sage’s crumbum boyfriend (Nat Wolff), a transgender tattoo artist (Laverne Cox), a surly cafe owner friend of Elle’s (the late Elizabeth Peña), Elle’s estranged daughter and Sage’s mother (Marcia Gay Harden), and a long-ago flame (Sam Elliott). 

The cast is uniformly good, although Tomlin overdoes the crusty-crone routine. She scowls a lot, but we all know she’s a secret softy. Grade: B- (Rated R for language and some drug use.)


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