By Lori Perkins
I saw Mack & Rita on a Friday night in my local cineplex (eight theaters) in a totally empty theater. I had not seen a single trailer or press release about the film, but the premise intrigued me – it sounded like 13 Going on 30, but 30 Going on 70. And I like this version of Diane Keaton, so I went.
It did not blow me away like Everything, Everywhere, All at Once (another film centered on a woman of a certain age which you MUST see if you haven’t already), but it was good, even charming in the way of good YA or dating comedies.
The basic premise is that 30-something Mack is celebrating her best friend’s wedding at a Palm Springs bachelorette gathering and is just way too uncomfortable with youth culture to really enjoy herself. She’d rather wear elastic wastebands and drink wine than go to a flash Bad Bunny concert in thigh-high python boots.
So she goes into a pop up past-life regression tent where she is placed in a non-working tanning bed and urged to find her inner self and emerges as 70 year-old Diane Keaton, who she presents to the world as her Aunt Rita. There’s a Hot Tub Time Machine vibe here too. Hilarity ensures as she does Pilates all wrong, binds with a female group of cool wine-drinking grandmas and finally sees the hot, but “boring” guy next door as the hot guy next door he really is.
But the real plot of this movie is that growing older is cool – and allows women (absolutely no older men in here, unless you include the voice of Martin Short as Mack’s dog) the opportunity to really be themselves. It’s a great message, especially because all the older women in the movie are not thin, straight and white (but they all seem to be widowed or partnerless and grandmothers).
And, as the New York Times front page article recently pointed out, it ties into the trend of “Cottage Core” – an at-home country comfort look and feel – and “Costal Grandma” chic, which developed as a post-pandemic esthetic. The writers of the film even commented that the idea for the movie came about as a pandemic reaction, a need to just slow the fuck down, and try to appreciate the small stuff and the mundane. Mack & Rita is the perfect zeitgeist film for that sentiment.