NBFF 2016 Review: Remember Me

remember meA film like Remember Me makes me wonder why EGOT-winner Rita Moreno is not appearing more frequently in feature films. The veteran actor may be in the role of wise-cracking grandmother, but she plays it quite well and many should know she is capable of more. For now though, here’s an enjoyable film that gets a little too caught up in some raunchier humor at times, despite working well enough as a fun road trip movie with some emotional pull.



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Writer/director Steve Goldbloom stars as Vincent Seder, a self-involved radio news correspondent who heads out for a visit to his grandparents. Once there, Vincent immediately butts heads with his part time stand-up, part time actor, mostly freeloading cousin Barry (Joel Kelley Dauten), while playing nice with Nanna (Moreno) and Pappy (Ray Reinhardt). Sadly, Pappy passes away and it becomes up to Vincent and Barry to take Nanna to an elder care facility.

A road trip movie really is the best way to describe Remember Me. It is simple and straightforward, with characters brought together by circumstance in a position to find common ground and bond. It is a formula that generally works, given the right cast, and it plays well here. The film is truly at its best once these characters do hit the road, as the opening minutes do have the film in a position where it is trying hard to be funny.

Vincent and Barry both enter this film as character types who are not instantly likable, which is done on purpose, but without the charm of actors you could see yourself attaching to more, even with these initial impressions. However, once they take Nanna on the road, the film opens up with a new dynamic, where you find these two working with the best interests of both themselves and their grandmother. It is an easy way to build sympathy, but Moreno fortunately adds a lot as well.

As Nanna, Moreno is at first quite restrained, due to being heavily medicated. Once being informed of her husband’s passing (and relieved of all her pills), we see some new dimensions that give a lot more life to the film as a whole. Moreno becomes a lot more active in conversation, while having a chance to play up the loss she has experienced. Some of the better moments do come from seeing the drama of the situation, with a few insightful lines regarding the nature of where Nanna is being taken.

Goldbloom and Kelley Duaten play off each other well too. They have a familiar antagonistic relationship that lightens over time, but their banter is generally quite fun. I do wish a little less time was devoted to random excursions for these two, such as an encounter with prostitutes, in favor of building up to more fun with their Nanna. Remember Me didn’t necessarily need to stop in its tracks for the sake of big drama, but it seemed like there could have been some more inspired comedic routes to take during this journey.

There is enough fun overall. It seems Remember Me was a bit at odds with itself directorially; as it mostly comes off as visually flat, save for some key moments, but at least the film never drags. By the time it arrives at its ending, however, the film has done enough to earn its emotional victory. It certainly helps when you have the skills of a pro like Moreno.

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