Movie Review: The Last Word

Shirley MacLaine comes back to the big screen for The Last Word, and she is perfect in the part: curmudgeon older lady who decides to change aspects of her life before she (eventually) passes away. The cast is what makes this movie so good, and it's a fun film to watch.

Harriet (MacLaine) is very Type-A, and likes to be in control of everything in her life. It only makes sense, then, that she goes to her local newspaper and asks to speak with the obituary writer, Anne (Amanda Seyfried), with an unusual request: she wants Anne to write her obituary before she dies, so that she can read it. Anne's boss tells her that Harriet was a very big advertiser in the paper back in the day, so they're essentially obligated to do this (and hey, if she leaves the newspaper some money in her will, that's an extra bonus). Anne starts talking to Harriet's friends and family, though those terms can be used loosely - most people hate her, and family-wise, she only has an ex-husband and a daughter to whom she doesn't talk.

Over the course of their journey, however, Harriet and Anne realize that they're more similar than they originally thought, and perhaps you really can change your life in the last home stretch.

MacLaine was superb in this role, and she and Seyfried have a great rapport. The precocious AnnJewel Lee Dixon, in her first film role, almost steals the show too, as a young "at risk" youth that MacLaine decides to mentor; the three of them make quite a group, though the movie almost devolves into a Ya-Ya Sisterhood type vibe near the end with them. Thomas Sadoski and Philip Baker Hall also have supporting roles here, as a DJ at Anne's favorite radio station, and Harriet's ex-husband, respectfully.

Yes, definitely see this movie, no matter what your age - it has something that will appeal to moviegoers universally. I'd love to see MacLaine get some award attention for this film, and both Seyfried and Dixon shouldn't be overlooked either; although I'm a huge fan of Seyfried's work, I really loved her in this role, as a hipster of sorts who has worked as an obituary writer for the past seven years. Although the ending is predictable, and there were a few scenes that could have been shortened or cut, overall I really enjoyed this movie, and I will be curious to see if it does well at the box office.

The Last Word is in theaters today, March 17th, and is rated R with a runtime of 103 minutes. 4.5 stars out of 5.

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