For his third film as director, J.D. Dillard adapts the 2017 biography Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice by author Adam Makos. The film shortens the title to Devotion and introduces audiences to the comradeship between naval officers Jesse Brown (Jonathan Majors) and Tom Hudner (Glen Powell) during the Korean War.
Mack & Rita is a quick time waster for Diane Keaton fans
Actress Katie Aselton returns to feature directing after nearly a decade away in Mack & Rita from Gravitas Premiere. When 30-year-old self-proclaimed homebody Mack Martin (Elizabeth Lail) reluctantly joins a Palm Springs bachelorette trip for her best friend Carla (Taylour Paige), her inner 70-year-old is released literally. The frustrated writer and influencer magically transform into her future self: “Aunt Rita” (Diane Keaton).
Freed from the constraints of other people’s expectations, Rita comes into her own, becoming an unlikely social media sensation, and sparks a tentative romance with Mack’s adorable dog-sitter, Jack (Dustin Milligan). Mack & Rita celebrates being true to yourself at any age in this sparkling comedy with a magical twist.
When I was a child, one of my favorite film plot lines was the age swap premise. We all remember the Jodie Foster classic Freaky Friday, and who can forget the late 1980s mini-cycle of age-swap / body-swap pictures? Those movies included Like Father Like Son (1987), Big (1988), 18 Again! (1988), Vice Versa (1988), and Dream a Little Dream (1989).
Upon first glance at the cast, one would think the writers Madeline Walter and Paul Welsh would possibly try and make a race relations comedy headlined by Lail and Paige, but thankfully they avoid this route and allow the always enjoyable Keaton to shine. The script for Mack & Rita avoids the typical cliches of age-swap comedies for the most part. There are plenty of moments where a joke about senior citizen discounts or “in my day” could’ve worked, but this never happens. For the most part, I took from the film to enjoy your youth, but when you get older, continue to be young at heart. The film only runs about ninety-five minutes, so no one else in the cast has an arc outside of our leading lady.
This decision was a shame, as I always enjoy seeing Taylor Paige on screen and wish she had more to do. It seems that the secondary story that focuses on a budding romance with a character portrayer portrayed by Dustin Mulligan is meant to fill this void. Additionally, there are some enjoyable scenes with the always pleasant Loretta Devine and Wendie Malick.
While I doubt that Mack & Rita will have the same staying power as Big, fans of Diane Keaton should enjoy the film.
Final Grade: C
Mack & Rita is in theaters now
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