Ricki and the Flash (Blu-ray)

November 30, 2015 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton and Matt Malouf

Plot: What’s it about?

I will admit that had I not been asked to review Ricki and the Flash that I likely would’ve never sat down to watch the film. The trailers looked less than appealing to me, and the general premise seemed more like made-for-TV material than a feature film. All this in addition to the fact that I’ve never been a huge fan of the film’s Writer, Diablo Cody. Much to my surprise, however, is that the film is quite entertaining. It’s clear to see early on where it’s headed, but I had a much more pleasant experience with it than my initial hesitations. I think of the benefits here over some of Cody’s other material is that it doesn’t get too wordy. This, in turn saves the film from feeling too smug and self-aware. Those are issues I had with Juno and Jennifer’s Body. 

Ricki stars Meryl Streep as the title character. To say she is a train wreck would be something of an understatement. She does vocals in a rock band that covers old tunes and is a cashier at a grocery store. One day she gets a call from her ex-husband, Pete (Kevin Kline) saying that their daughter is stuck in a rut and asks Ricki to come and try to mend things. Their daughter, Julie (Mamie Gummer) recently attempted suicide and her marriage fell apart. Pete’s current wife is out of town, and with Ricki in town, he hopes things will get resolved between them. They have other kids as well. One is gay and one got engaged recently, but nobody let Ricki know. This is essentially the outline of the film. As mentioned, it’s pretty clear how things will end, but I still found it enjoyable overall. It does have some issues, most notably with the length. We get some extended sequences with Ricki and her band. A little bit of that goes a long way. The songs are great songs, but not when sung by Streep. Things do threaten to get into soap opera material, but the performances help keep things afloat. It’s also nice to see a film that depicts characters that are flawed and not what we typically see in the movies. I still won’t say I’m a big fan of Diablo Cody, but this is a small step forward.

Video: How’s it look?

I know this will sound crass when read, but let’s face it – the cast of Ricki and the Flash aren’t exactly recent college graduates! The 2.40:1 AVC HD image certainly embodies everything we’ve come to love about Blu-ray. Detail is amazing, but as I mentioned the cast is losing their hair, sporting wrinkles and show much more grey than they used to. Hey, it happens to us all! Still, the generally warm color scheme makes for a very pleasing picture. There are, as expected, some night shots of musical performances on stage and the shadows, contrast and black levels all work well with one another. It’s what we’ve come to expect from a new to Blu-ray film.

Audio: How’s it sound?

Generally speaking, any film that centers around music will want and/or need to sound good. Thankfully the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack delivers – and delivers well. The music resonates through the channels that makes you feel like you’re there in the audience. Vocals are rich, crisp and pure. The surrounds are very active as well that creates a very immersive 360 degree experience. Though the front stage handles a lot of the background noise, it’s the discrete effects that really make this a memorable track. Well done!

Supplements: What are the extras?

DVD Extra

  • Getting Ready for Ricki: The Making of Ricki and the Flash – A pretty standard offering with interviews from the cast and crew about the film’s theme, the music, costumes and the like. Not much is learned here and we get a bevy of behind the scenes footage (as expected).

Blu-ray Exclusives

  • Rediscovering Rick Springfield – Anyone alive in the early to mid 80’s will remember this rocker who had hits like “Love Somebody” and “Jessie’s Girl.” Don’t let this career as a musician fool you though, he was once a cast member of General Hospital! At any rate, this takes a look at finding that perfect person and one that many had forgotten about.
  • Deleted Scenes – Four total, none of which really add to the film.
  • Cast Photo Gallery

The Bottom Line

I wasn’t expecting much, but Ricki and the Flash surprised me. I was more surprised by how much I enjoyed it rather than the plot elements as it tends to fall on the predictable side. Still, it’s a worthy rental one time. I was also glad to see a film by Diablo Cody not drowning in self-awareness.

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