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Lorene Scafaria
Susan Sarandon, Rose Byrne, JK Simmons, Michael McKean
Writing Credits:
Lorene Scafaria

An aging widow from New York City follows her daughter to Los Angeles in hopes of starting a new life after her husband passes away.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$57,022 on 4 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1/16X9
English Dolby 5.1
English Audio Descriptive Service
French Dolby 5.1
Portuguese Dolby 5.1
Thai Dolby 5.1
Chinese Traditional
Supplements Subtitles:
Chinese Traditional

Runtime: 103 min.
Price: $25.99
Release Date: 9/6/2016

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Lorene Scafaria and Actor Susan Sarandon
• Gag Reel
• “The Real Marnie” Featurette
• “The Making of The Meddler” Featurette
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Meddler (2016)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 21, 2016)

For a look at familial relationships, we head to 2016’s The Meddler. After the death of her beloved husband, Marnie Minervini (Susan Sarandon) leaves New York to move to Los Angeles.

What prompts this change of scenery? Marnie’s daughter Lori (Rose Byrne) lives in LA, so Marnie hopes that quality time with her child will help satisfy her feelings of loneliness.

This doesn’t work well for Lori, as Marnie quickly becomes far too involved in her daughter’s life. We follow their attempts to deal with each other as well as a twist that occurs when Marnie meets ex-cop Randall Zipper (JK Simmons).

Normally I’d stay away from this kind of female-oriented fare, as I don’t tend to enjoy movies of this sort. Meddler comes with a strong potential to be painfully sy and quirky, traits that don’t endear movies to me.

So why did I give Meddler a look? The cast, mainly, as I figured a movie with Sarandon, Byrne and Simmons seemed like a decent shot to provide reasonable entertainment.

As it turns out, my instinct proved correct, as whatever success Meddler enjoys comes from its roster of actors. In addition to those I already mentioned, the film features Michael McKean, Lucy Punch, Cicely Strong, Jerrod Carmichael and other talents, all of whom add value to the project.

This seems especially true due to the potentially sappy nature of the movie. Because Meddler includes so many comedic performers, it manages a saucier attitude than might have become true. This helps make matters lighter and less sentimental.

Sarandon’s Noo Yawk accent seems dodgy, but she still offers a nice turn as Marnie. She presents an overbearing mother without turning shrill or cartoony, and that allows her to ground the movie well enough. Simmons tries too hard to impersonate Sam Elliott, but he remains likable anyway, and Byrne does fine in a semi-thankless role.

Beyond the cast, however, I can’t find a lot about Meddler that excels. The movie lacks much of a story, as it instead pursues a semi-episodic bent. We essentially follow Marnie from scene to scene without a lot to tie together events, and that leaves matters somewhat hollow.

The fairly predictable nature of the tale doesn’t help. It doesn’t take much to anticipate where various events and character arcs will go, so the film fails to throw too many surprises our way.

Still, the cast fares well enough to make Meddler a moderate pleasure. The actors contribute spark and wit, factors that allow the less than inventive story to go down easily.

The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio C+/ Bonus C+

The Meddler appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The picture never excelled, but it was acceptable for SD-DVD.

Sharpness was usually fine. Wider shots tended to be a bit soft, but those instances weren’t extreme, and much of the flick offered decent to good clarity. Shimmering and jaggies were minor and edge haloes seemed non-problematic. Print flaws were non-existent, as I detected no specks, marks or other blemishes.

The film’s palette usually opted for an amber/orange tint most of the time, with a little teal along the way. Within that design range, the colors seemed fine; they weren’t especially strong, but they were competent. Blacks tended to be somewhat inky, but shadows showed reasonable smoothness. Nothing here did much to impress, but this was an acceptable presentation.

Don’t expect fireworks from the film’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, as we got a mix heavy on music and general environmental material. Even when the material broadened, it stayed restrained and effects could seem borderline monaural. This became a restricted track for 5.1.

Audio quality was fine. Speech seemed natural and concise, and the score demonstrated pretty good vivacity. Effects did little to tax my system but they were clear and accurate enough. Overall, this ended up as a passable mix.

A few extras flesh out the disc, and we start with an audio commentary from writer/director Lorene Scafaria and actor Susan Sarandon. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/character areas, sets and locations, cast and performances, inspirational material from Scafaria’s life, music, and related domains.

The best parts of the commentary occur when Scafaria discusses the family facts behind the movie’s fiction, as those give us a good look at her influences. Otherwise, this tends to be a mediocre commentary. We find too much dead air and not enough substance. There’s just enough meat to make the track worth a listen, but it drags a lot of the time.

Two featurettes follow. The Real Marnie runs 12 minutes, eight seconds and offers info from Sarandon, Scafaria and her mother Gail. This looks at how Gail inspired the Marnie character and Sarandon’s performance. I like this glimpse of the actual person behind the fiction..

Next comes The Making of The Meddler. It goes for 16 minutes, seven seconds and features Lorene Scafaria, Sarandon, producer Joy Gorman Wettels, location manager Patsy Fitzgerald, and actors Rose Byrne, JK Simmons, Cecily Strong, Jerrod Carmichael, Michael McKean, and members of Blues Traveler. The show looks at story/character elements, cast and performances, sets and locations, and connected domains. This piece offers a fairly fluffy overview without much substance.

A Gag Reel lasts four minutes, eight seconds. It provides a standard collection of goofs and giggles. Nothing about it stands out as memorable.

The disc opens with ads for The Bronze, Guernica, Hello, My Name Is Doris and Equity. No trailer for Meddler appears here.

When The Meddler works, it does so almost entirely due to its excellent cast. They offer vibrant performances that compensate for the movie’s weaker elements. The DVD provides acceptable picture and audio along with a few supplements. Meddler brings us moderate entertainment.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
1 3:
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