Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Review: "The Leisure Seeker" is a highlight for Mirren and Sutherland.

The Leisure Seeker Review

I have had a few relatives who suffered from Alzheimer’s and watching the mind of someone you love and care for slowly deteriorate is hard to watch. I wouldn’t wish that for anyone’s family, even my worst enemy. Any disease that plagues us as we begin to get old is tough, and I wouldn’t want that for anyone. It’s already hard getting old in general, so the thought of a disease coming along and forcing us to forget things we desperately need to hold onto, it sounds terrible. It is terrible.

There have been many movies about the subject. There have been good movies, tearful movies, and movies that use the subject to make tearful movies. There have been enough of these movies that some tropes and norms within the genre. “The Leisure Seeker” features Donald Sutherland as John and Helen Mirren as Ella. They have been married for many, many years. They have remained at each other’s side for that amount of time. They had two wonderful kids, those kids became adults. They’ve had an entire life together. Sadly, that life is slowly coming to a close. John is having trouble with his memories. They come and go. John is slowly falling victim to Alzheimer’s. Ella decides to take John on a trip that they’ve talked about for quite some time. She takes him cross country from Pennsylvania to Florida to see Ernest Hemingway’s house. They take their prized Winnebago called The Leisure Seeker.

Their kids wouldn’t let them do that if they knew, so Ella sneaks them out without telling them. Oh, ho, ho. Yes, it’s all part of the comedy. There are some big laughs along the way too. The laughs land a little harder because both Mirren and Sutherland are so charming. Yes, there are some other players in the movie, but it’s pretty much steered, literally and figuratively, by both Mirren and Sutherland and they make an adorable elderly couple. It’s pretty hard for either of them to give a bad performance.

What’s both amazing and incorrigible is that he movie adheres to the formula these movies create. Yes, John brings up an old boyfriend of Ella’s, even though he was out of the picture way after they were married. There are some burping and peeing jokes. There are some ongoing jokes about underwear. It comes to light that someone cheats. There is a robbery that goes wary thanks to the old folks. John drives off without Ella, leaving her stranded at a gas station. These are all tired jokes, things we’ve seen before a hundred times. The thing is, I wasn’t bored as I watched the movie. There is a reason why Mirren’s work in was recognized by the Golden Globes. Not only is she adorable in this movie, but there are moments that are wounded, and she hits every beat. Ella slowly begins to see that if she passes away, John won’t understand what happened to her, and that’s more than she can bare. It’s startling work at times, but very human. Sutherland is so funny through most of the film, and there is a genuine sweetness to his performance here, so much so that I nearly applauded.

Here’s another thing, the movie clearly wants to try and jerk some tears out of you. But I have to admit, that I never got weepy. I hope that says something. Because even though no matter how much of a manly man I feel I am, I am a big softy when it comes to movies. I never even felt close to shedding a tear during this. The movie plays more like a comedy, and there are several laughs throughout the entire movie. The ending is rather predictable, and I heard many people say that the ending was sad and that it even bummed a few people out. I am not sure how this movie will affect me as I get older. Perhaps if I see this again in about fifty years, it will have an entirely different meaning for me.

“The Leisure Seeker” plays predictable and obvious pretty much throughout. There isn’t a moment in this film that I feel will surprise you. I did like that the movie plays more for laughs instead of being a tearjerker. Mirren and Sutherland are pretty close to perfect here, and you can forgive most of the absurdities of the story because they make you buy into the films premise. There are plenty of things to like in this movie. If this is your first Alzheimer’s film, this might end up being your favorite. It’s slight entertainment for sure, but still entertaining nonetheless.

"The Leisure Seeker" will be released on March 9th.

FINAL GRADE: B

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