Film Review: Uninspired Musical Story Isn’t Worth Telling in the Inspired-By ‘Ricki and the Flash’

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Average: 5 (2 votes)

CHICAGO – When I screened “Inside Llewyn Davis” from the Coen Bros. before it was nominated for two Oscars and praised by critics everywhere, I beefed to myself: Who is this musician? Why does his story matter as compared to so many other real musicians who you never hear about but deserve that kind of spotlight?

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.0/5.0
Rating: 2.0/5.0

While it turns out that Llewyn Davis is a fictional character partly inspired by the autobiography of folk singer Dave Van Ronk, in “Ricki and the Flash” we get more of the same but in a more forgettable, inconsistent and predictable way. You’ll wonder once again: Is the “guitar heroine” Ricki Rendazzo a real musician and why does her story warrant a film? Answers: No (but it’s another “inspired by”) and she doesn’t.

While Ricki’s real name in the film is Linda, she’s not a real person and neither is her band. I might actually buy that real-life musician Rick Springfield (known for “Jessie’s Girl”) could tour with and have romantic interest in Meryl Streep, but it turns out that Ricki and the Flash is a fictional cover band – yes, only a cover band! – that only plays in one small bar and at a wedding.

At least Llewyn Davis wrote and performed original music. But now, a film about a mediocre, no-name cover band that goes nowhere is an insulting waste to real-life, struggling musicians everywhere – countless ones of which could have been plucked for this film and would have had much more of an interesting story to tell than this.

StarRead Adam Fendelman’s full review of “Ricki and the Flash”.

Why must TV shows like “American Idol,” “The X Factor,” “America’s Got Talent” and YouTube be the only ones that can discover new musical artists? Why can’t movies?

While Meryl’s Streep’s vocals are fine, nothing she does musically will blow you away and they can’t compare to so many better artists who could have been chosen for this role. And it’s inaccurate to call her a “guitar heroine” without ever hardly being able to hear her guitar playing solo.

“Ricki and the Flash” stars Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Mamie Gummer, Rick Springfield, Joe Vitale, Ben Platt, Rick Rosas, Bernie Worrell, Keala Settle and Joe Toutebon from director Jonathan Demme and writer Diablo Cody. The film, which has a running time of 102 minutes and opened on Aug. 7, 2015, is rated “PG-13” for thematic material, brief drug content, sexuality and language.

StarContinue for Adam Fendelman’s full review of “Ricki and the Flash”.

Rick Springfield and Meryl Streep in Ricki and the Flash
Greg (Rick Springfield) and Ricki (Meryl Streep) in “Ricki and the Flash”.
Image credit: Bob Vergara, Sony Pictures Entertainment

StarContinue for Adam Fendelman’s full review of “Ricki and the Flash”.

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