Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘Ricki and the Flash’ Review: Starring Meryl Streep, Mamie Gummer & Rick Springfield

Director Jonathan Demme and writer Diablo Cody teamed up to create a film that is lively, witty, fun, a little crazy and musically delicious. It may not be either of the two’s best film ever, but for what its worth, Ricki and the Flash will please its targeted audience and is led by the immensely talented Meryl Streep.

Ricki Rendazzo (Meryl Streep), her given name is Linda Brummel, is the lead singer of her own rock band Ricki and the Flash based in California. Ricki performs nightly at the local dive bar singing classics by Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger and occasionally spices it up with more recent hits from Lady Gaga and Pink. But performing nightly at a tiny venue can’t cut it to pay the bills Ricki also works as a cashier at Total Foods and also frequently denies having any romantic connection to her band mate Greg (Rick Springfield).

During her lunch break at Total Foods, Ricki gets a call from her ex-husband Pete (Kevin Kline), who tells her that their daughter Julie (Mamie Gummer) is in a state of depression after recently learning that her husband is leaving her for another woman. Pete suggests that Ricki return home to Indianapolis to help console Julie. The problem is Ricki has been estranged from the family ever since she went off to pursue her dream as a rock star. He other two children Josh (Sebastian Stan) and Adam (Nick Weatrate) aren’t necessarily looking forward her arrival either. During her time back at home, Ricki tries to patch things up with her family the best way she knows how.

It goes without saying that Meryl Streep is a revelation as Ricki. The veteran actress learned to play the guitar for the role and used her vocal talents to live-sing all of the songs throughout the film. She clearly has a great and fun time with this role and it’s something surprisingly refreshing amongst her long list of filmography.

The supporting actors are just as excellent, but who stands out is Streep’s real-life daughter Mamie Gummer as the saddened and run-down recent divorcee. Gummer makes a startlingly crazy entrance with wild hair and bags under her eyes. She and Streep’s character don’t immediately get along which makes it all the more interesting to watch while being fascinated with how much they look alike. They are excellent together.


Kevin Kline is sweet and adoring as Ricki’s ex-husband, while Audra McDonald is exquisite in her little screen time as Pete’s wife. One of the best scenes in the film is between McDonald and Streep having a firm conversation on what is best for their child. It’s painful, awkward and raw to watch and feels like a realistic conversation between two mothers who are parenting the same kids. Rick Springfield surprises with an emotional and loving performance as Ricki’s band mate/partner/lover, who offers her advice and supports her more than anyone. Ricki and the Flash is not necessarily a love story but it does highlight Ricki and Greg’s relationship, which is pleasantly surprising since there aren’t too many films about love stories later in life.

Ricki and the Flash is a fun multi-layered dramedy that features another killer performance by Meryl Streep, has some hilarious moments and dialogue via Diablo Cody’s signature style and has some lovely musical moments.

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