What is Witty Watching?

Mack & Rita – Movie Review
August 12, 2022

Synopsis: A 30-year-old writer spends a wild weekend in Palm Springs and wakes up to find she has magically transformed into her 70-year-old self.

Director: Katie Aselton

Stars: Diane Keaton, Elizabeth Lail, Taylour Page, Simon Rex

I shouldn’t like Mack & Rita. I shouldn’t like Mack & Rita because we have seen many incarnations of this film. Freaky Friday, 17 Again, 13 Going on 30 etc. We take one character and put them in the body of a totally different character and hilarity ensues. Sometimes it works, but more often it doesn’t. We’ve been there. We’ve done that. I shouldn’t like Mack & Rita.

Now in this film we meet Mack played by Elizabeth Lail (YOU Season One). Mack is pretty simple. She’s a writer and she has her group of friends but she doesn’t feel like she fits in. She’s always felt like an ‘old woman trapped in a younger woman’s body’.  

She goes to see a questionably quirky character, (Red Rockets Simon Rex) and presto-chango Mack transforms into an older woman (Diane Keaton). She then pretends to be Mack’s Aunt, Rita.

Again, been there, done that. I shouldn’t like Mack & Rita but this film has two things the other movies didn’t that make them stand out.

The first is Diane Keaton. Diane Keaton is an icon. Nominated for four Oscars with one win she is extremely likeable on and off screen. Every interview I have seen her in she comes off as someone with an infectious personality who is funny, intelligent and doesn’t take herself too seriously. And as far as her career as an actor, well allow me to impress you with her resume. The Godfather Series, Annie Hall, The First Wives Club, Somethings Gotta Give. Diane Keaton doesn’t conform; she is her own person and I appreciate that so much about her.

At 76 years young Diane Keaton seems to be one of those celebrities whose personality shows that she doesn’t see herself as a celebrity.

The second thing that make this movie stand out is Katie Aselton. This is her third directorial effort and the first she hasn’t starred in. Now I didn’t recognize her name when I first started doing my research for this film but after seeing her picture, I was familiar with some of her acting work. She was on an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm (Thank You for Your Service) and she accomplished what many can’t do, she went toe to toe with Larry David and she was amazing in it. And of course, just because someone can act doesn’t mean they can direct but Aselton can. She has made a very funny movie with Mack & Rita.

One aspect of this film that I appreciate is that it can appeal to a wide range of audiences and specifically different age groups. In this time of inclusion, we don’t tend to see a lot of projects that are geared or endear our senior community. Years ago, I remember attending a marketing seminar that the CBC was hosting. They were discussing shifts of marketing and I remember them making the point that advertising, etc would not be directed towards seniors for some time and a show like The Golden Girls wouldn’t be made again for some time. Now if you’re reading this wondering what The Golden Girls is, then the point has been made.

Now we spoke about Keaton and Aselton but it’s their combination that helps this movie take off. Under Aselton’s direction Keaton gives a fearless performance in this role. Watching her just be so free of inhibition in this role is what it makes it different from the others.

You want to meet Rita. You want to hang out with her. You want her to be your friend, your aunt.  There are those that are critical of the choices that actors make when it comes to their roles, and I’ve been guilty of that as well. Not here though. Every movie isn’t for everyone, but Mack & Rita certainly has an audience that will enjoy it.

We definitely navigate through some familiar themes with this style of movie, but Keaton’s performance elevated the overall film. On paper this cast is an all-star ensemble. You have Taylour Page (have you seen Zola?), You have Patti Harrison, (Have you seen Together, Together?) to say nothing of Hollywood vets like Loretta Devine and Wendy Malick.

I thought this was an enjoyably cute film.

I shouldn’t like Mack & Rita, but I did!

Grade: B-

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