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  • Writer's pictureMatt Conway

Moving On: Review

Moving On Synopsis: Two estranged friends (Jane Fonda and Lilly Tomlin) reunite to seek revenge against the husband of their recently deceased best friend. Along the way, they learn to make peace with the past and each other.

Grandmother Claire continues to be haunted by a traumatic event from her past involving her best friend's fiance, Howard. When her friend dies, Claire and her estranged college companion Evelyn reunite for the funeral to kill Howard in Moving On.

Pairing the talents of Jane Fonda and Lilly Tomlin together is always a good recipe for entertainment. The two shepherded the crowdpleasing Netflix comedy Grace and Frankie for seven seasons, holding the show together through their sheer force of nature as performers. Heck, even the so-so, corporate-approved comedy 80 for Brady registered enough easy-going laughs from the duo's distinct talents (alongside co-stars Rita Moreno and Sally Field).

In Moving On, writer/director Paul Weitz spotlights Fonda and Tomlin in an intriguing genre fusion where two friends embark on a crusade to murder a reprehensible figure from their past. Even as the promising puzzle pieces don't quite gel together, the experience still provides a refreshingly morbid comedy bolstered by the radiant talents of its remarkable stars.

It's a hoot to watch Fonda and Tomlin mingle together onscreen, especially in a film free of rigid studio comedy rules. As Claire, Fonda delivers her signature wit while reckoning with the character's lingering traumas in thoughtful manners. I loved seeing the actress escape the one-note archetypes she's been typecasted to the last decade in favor of an authentic character brimming with real-world textures. When the film allows Fonda to explore Claire's pains, the actress nails the reflective beats with impressive ease.

Tomlin remains a comedic force of nature as Evelyn. Her sardonic wit and alluring screen presence make her a pitch-perfect comedic sparring partner for Fonda. It's a testament to Tomlin's immense talents that she creates a richly lived-in character with limited screen time. She skillfully explores the highs and lows of Evelyn's past as the character's backstory gradually pieces together onscreen. Impactful supporting work from Malcolm McDowell as the vicious Howard and Richard Roundtree as Claire's compassionate ex-husband also leaves a positive impact.

Moving On is another extension of Weitz's fascinating onscreen voice. The writer/director's resume features a vast range of raunchy comedies (American Pie) and soulful dramas (Being Flynn). With Moving On, Weitz attempts an oft-kilter merging of these sensibilities with mixed results.

Elements of Weitz's vision burst with promise. I appreciate his ability to extenuate the talents of his stars. Similar to his work with Tomlin in 2015's Grandma, he taps into layers of his performers scarcely explored onscreen. Additionally, his comedic chops are a well-tailored fit for the material. Bitting barbs and snied one-liners often deliver uproarious laughs as Claire and Evelyn descend further into their darkly humorous pursuit to get revenge.

A marriage of dramatic and comedic tones sounds excellent on paper, but Weitz struggles to find cohesion in his vision. The film's breathless 85-minute runtime does not provide enough opportunities for exploring the characters onscreen. Moving On thrives when balancing its silly escapades with a genuine sense of real-world weight. Instead, the film gradually forgoes its characters and their lingering dilemmas for a more straightforward comedic affair. The third act is particularly dysfunctional, shying away from any genuine steaks for a crystal-clean conclusion that betrays much of the film's earlier complications. I was disappointed to see Moving On's strong start ultimately underplayed by a failure of nerve from its filmmaker.

Still, I credit Moving On for attempting to walk an untraditional tightrope. The film's inconsistencies are more than made up for by the talents of its

dynamite dynamic duo.

Moving On is now playing in theaters.


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