Susan Sarandon, Rose Byrne, J.K. Simmons
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The title of the film says it all really, and that is not a good look by the way. In Lorene Scafaria’s (Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World) odd comedy, we have a cross between a family drama and a character study. Neither is that engaging.
The main attraction here is Susan Sarandon. She plays Marnie, the eponymous meddler. Marnie (no surname given) is failing to get over the death of her beloved husband, and now has to go and get interested in other lives as a way to distract herself. This is bad luck for her daughter, Lori (Rose Byrne). The pair have not been close, and when Marnie moves out to LA to be near her daughter, we know that things will be comic-edgy. Lori tries to get her mother to be less concerned with meddling in her life and more focused on meeting someone new. Enter a motorbike-riding ex-cop called Zipper (J.K. Simmons who was so intense as the teacher in Whiplash). Zipper takes it slow, both in terms of getting Marnie to consider re-opening her heart, and in terms of riding safely with her as pillion. Also, along the way, we see Marnie helping a black waiter to get more education, and also assisting a lesbian friend with an amazing waterside wedding.
All three leads are too strong for this slightly thin material, but they are pros, so they never give up on the script. Quite what the great Susan Sarandon saw in this is anyone’s guess. Marnie turns from being a hugely sign-posted pain in the rear to an everyday saint within the first twenty minutes, and there is nowhere else for her character to go after that. All that Byrne has to do is be long suffering and not too mean to her annoying mother. There are moments of winning sentimentality, but mostly The Meddler just goes along in its own inconsequential way.