The Last Word

The Last Word


The Last Word.  Rating: 2 (out of 5). A retired successful businesswoman, Harriet, is used to micro-managing every single aspect of her life, and she is not about to let her obituary be any different. She asks a local writer, Anne, but when the first draft does not meet her expectations, Harriet sets out to rewrite her life’s story, dragging Anne along as an unwilling accomplice, and their journey results in a life-altering friendship. The film premieres on VOD on Tuesday, May 16.  The New York Observer finds, “Despite the presence of Shirley MacLaine, the moments of pleasure provided by The Last Word are far outnumbered by scenes of exaggerated, phony, sugary marzipan-like make believe.”

Starring: Amanda Seyfried, AnnJewel Lee Dixon, Gedde Watanabe, Joel Murray, Philip Baker Hall, Shirley MacLaine, Thomas Sadoski, Tom Everett Scott, Yvette Freeman
Director: Mark Pellington
Rating: R
Genre: Drama, Comedy



Variety says, “Watching MacLaine’s Harriet embrace her life, after spending too much time rejecting it, leads The Last Word to a touching finish. MacLaine has something that shines through and elevates a film like this one. The movie is prefab indie whimsy, but she gives it an afterglow.”

Boston Globe gives the movie 2 stars, and further notes, “If “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946) had mean Mr. Potter standing on the bridge ready to jump, rather than James Stewart’s beaten down hero George Bailey, it still would not have been as namby-pamby as Mark Pellington’s treacly and bromidic The Last Word.”

New York Observer finds, “Despite the presence of Shirley MacLaine, the moments of pleasure provided by The Last Word are far outnumbered by scenes of exaggerated, phony, sugary marzipan-like make believe.”

Entertainment Weekly gives the film a C rating, and further notes, “Shirley MacLaine’s well-deserved reputation as a salty, snappy grand dame — forged from later-career work like “Terms of Endearment,” “Steel Magnolias,” “Postcards from the Edge,” “Bernie”, etc. — unfortunately precedes her in this sloppy, saccharine drama costarring Amanda Seyfried.”

The Hollywood Reporter writes, “Even in a pandering sentimental comedy like this one, it’s a pleasure to see MacLaine back in the spotlight.”

Washington Post gives the film 0.5 out of 4 stars, and further notes, “Director Mark Pellington (“I Melt With You”) at least recognizes that the setup is little more than a freakish showcase for Mac­Laine do her blunt-spoken-battle-ax thing.”

Los Angeles Times thinks, “The glamorously insouciant MacLaine wears a brave face enlivening the hackneyed script. As effervescent harridans go, Harriet is firmly in her wheelhouse, and even in a maddeningly thin vehicle like “The Last Word,” the star’s vinegary twinkle is still something to see.”

Chicago Sun-Times gives the movie 1.5 stars, and further writes, “With each introduction of an estranged family member or a former business partner or that annoying radio host, “The Last Word” becomes ever more crowded and ever less interesting.”

The New York Times says, “Ms. MacLaine, 82, holds the screen effortlessly. Too bad she has to share it.”

Tampa Bay Times gives the movie a C rating, and further notes, “MacLaine keeps things interesting, snapping off one-liners with precision that comes only through experience. She’ll turn 83 next month, still vibrant and commanding attention effortlessly, a vestige of Hollywood’s old guard.”

New Orleans Times-Picayune finds, “If nothing else, the dramatic comedy The Last Word provides one thing: It gives Shirley MacLaine a great role in which to sink her teeth. That turns out to be a gift not only to the Hollywood veteran but to audiences as well.”

Arizona Republic thinks, “If it wasn’t for her, it would be near-unwatchable.”

Austin Chronicle gives the film 2 out of 5 stars, and further writes, “If only the movie that encases this character were as sharp and distinctive as Harriet.”

The Globe and Mail says, “I hope that in the name of her decades-spanning career and six Academy Award nominations (plus one win), we might do MacLaine the small courtesy of forgetting that this pedestrian and dull comedy ever happened.”

Movie Nation gives the film 2 out of 4 stars, and further notes, “Seyfried gives Anne a casual, coarse informality that the hard-drinking (and capable of cursing) Harriet pretends to find grating. MacLaine is properly imperious, flinty and mean. But the things these two have to put across are just cut-and-paste adorable, knocking the life right out of the money.” finds, “This is, among other things, something of a fatty movie. It goes out of its way to hit “beats” that it presumes will be satisfying to a mainstream audience.”

The Film Stage gives the movie a C rating, and further notes, “Otherwise, everyone gets what they strive for in the end, which I suppose is the definition of a feel-good film, but the path to that end is predictable, even when Harriet and Ann try to break out and be anything but.”

Screen International observes, “Offering predictably heartfelt messages about seizing the day, The Last Word can be very sweet and funny, but its lightness starts to feel cloying rather than ebullient.”

Slant Magazine thinks, “Its main character’s transformation isn’t significant enough to justify her complete redemption in the eyes of those around her.”

A.V. Club gives the film a C rating, and further writes, “Despite its initially cranky tone and the dozen or so fucks that earn it an R rating, it’s as soft and Downy-scented as a Hallmark movie. That it starts off promisingly and then seems to drop off in quality has more to do with MacLaine’s performance than with Pellington’s fitful direction or Stuart Ross Fink’s cutesy script.”

TheWrap finds, “If nothing else, The Last Word demonstrates that Shirley MacLaine still has the comic chops and screen presence that have made her a Hollywood legend.”


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