Even a second look can’t make “Moving On” any better.
Miring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in a bad senior citizen comedy doesn’t do either of them justice, particularly since they’ve both appeared in films much, much better.
Casting her as an elderly woman with secrets, director Paul Weitz doesn’t give Fonda the scenes necessary to make this anything more than a lesser episode of “Grace and Frankie.” For good measure Tomlin is here as a fellow college classmate. They reunite at the funeral of a friend who happened to be married to a man Fonda wants to kill.
She tells him as much at a memorial service and proceeds to figure out a way to make it happen. Unfortunately, Fonda’s Claire doesn’t have the fortitude to see it through. She confesses as much to Tomlin’s Evelyn, who has a secret of her own. Together, the two work their way through a hospital, a retirement home and, for a good measure, a gun shop. Along the way, Claire reunites with her ex-husband (Richard Roundtree) and soon, we see “Moving On” is designed to address social issues.
While moments of the film look familiar, there’s an attempt to give the two women identities we haven’t seen. Claire isn’t confident and sexy like other recent characters. She’s jittery and conflicted. Evelyn is broke and scared. When the grandson of a fellow resident expresses interest in Evelyn’s jewelry you can see she’s going to help him express himself. Claire gets an opportunity to talk about interracial relationships when she goes to dinner with her ex’s family.
The concepts are intriguing but they seem odd emerging so late in the women’s lives.
Why Evelyn and Claire didn’t stay in contact isn’t really addressed but, like most plot devices, doesn’t need an excuse to turn up.
As the widower both women hate, Malcolm McDowell goes through an index of familiar emotions. He’s not exactly to be pitied but he’s also not the likeliest person to wear a target.
When the two go through the motions of murder, “Moving On” looks like a subplot in “Only Murders in the Building.”
Again, for two actresses who have had stellar careers, this should have offered more. Early on, the two had a very similar thread in “9 to 5” and found a more interesting way out. Here, they palm the cards they’re dealt and fold.
Those valedictory roles? They’re still out there. Let’s hope someone writes them before someone suggests they do an “80 for Brady” sequel.