The Last Word

Have you ever been tempted to write your own obituary? I have read some obituaries written by the deceased that are hilarious! (I might give it a try, now that I think about it...) Here we have a control freak who is bored, bored, bored. She was recently fired from her own ad agency and soon realizes that many obituaries of her peers don't tell the whole truth. She isn't willing to leave something as important as her own obituary to strangers she doesn't trust, so she shanghais an experienced journalist into addressing the problem...

This R-rated (language) film is part of a "Movies for Grownups" movement that I heartily recommend. The script might be just a tad predictable, but we know we will be entertained every single minute. Working from a script by Stuart Ross Fink, director Mark Wellington ("Henry Poole is Here") brings us a first-rate dramedy which features some of our favorite actors.

They include:
  • Shirley MacClaine ("Elsa & Fred") Harriet has never doubted herself and she isn't about to start in now! She divides an obituary into four essential elements: Family, Profession, Other Achievements and a "Wild Card." (Which usually provides a catchy opening line.)
  • Tom Everett Scott ("La La Land") Ronald Odom is trying to keep the family newspaper alive although print media is a dying business. Harriet's advertising agency had provided revenue that kept his newspaper going for years, so he's willing to throw his obituary writer under the bus...
  • Amanda Seyfried ("Pan") Even though Anne is the official obituary writer for the local newspaper, Harriet doesn't think this young woman understands her profession! Those two go nose-to-nose. She says "Harriet puts B*tch in Obituary." By the way, Seyfried and MacClaine are co-producers of this film.
  • AnnJewel Lee Dixon (in her film debut) Brenda is a precocious little girl who instantly qualifies for Harriet's "Wild Card," because she's opinionated, underprivileged, a hooligan and a minority. (Harriet is smart enough to exploit the system.) Brenda tells her, "Ya gotta be SOMETHIN'!"
  • Valeri Ross ("American Crime Story") Wanda Barnes has worked with many defiant children in her child-care facility, but Brenda taxes even HER patience!
  • Thomas Sadoski ("John Wick") Robin Sands runs Anne's favorite radio station. Harriet has never heard of it, but watch what happens when she does! (She owns an amazing set of LPs - remember those?)
  • Yvette Freeman ("Orange is the New Black") Harriet's housekeeper knows it ALL! But she isn't telling.
  • Anne Heche ("Aftermath") Elizabeth has her own version of the truth but she provides her alienated mother with a hearty laugh.
  • Gedde Watanabe ("Bravest Warriors") Harriet's gardener can't make up his mind. Is his boss losing it? MUST they mow the lawn every other day?
  • Joel Murray (Lots of TV) Joe Mueller used to work for Harriet and has nothing but praise for her take-no-prisoners style.
All her life, our heroine has had to battle her way; this means her doctor, her gynecologist, her hairdresser, her former husband, and many others who have had to deal with her, have PLENTY to say to the obituary writer (we in the audience laughed a LOT!). Even Debbie Reynolds shows up in this montage...and gets a big laugh. I really enjoyed it when one of the three leads would suddenly come up with a great, catchy opening line for another obituary!

Many of the scenes look like oil paintings and the musical sound track is to die for (I would have appreciated captions). We were an enthused and energized screening audience who exited the theater.
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