Starring Jane Fonda, Catherine Keener, Elizabeth Olsen, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Chace Crawford, Nat Wolff and Kyle MacLachlan. Written by Christina Mengert and Joseph Muszynski. Directed by Bruce Beresford.
I love hippies. I love the movement's '60s roots; I love the ideas of nonviolence, social acceptance and love; as a health-food kinda guy, I even love the organic, crunchy-granola element (no comment on the weed part). All that being said, Peace, Love and Misunderstanding makes me absolutely hate hippies. What an idiotic, pointless, disconnected culture. What a bunch of morons, spouting supposedly poetic insights that are nothing but a load of pretentious twaddle. Of course, given a moment's reality check, I realize I don't actually hate hippies; I just hate the absurd caricatures that the film tries to pass off as hippies.
The key hippie here is Grace (Fonda), a Woodstock attendee who receives a surprise visit from her estranged family: her conservative lawyer daughter Diane (Keener) and Diane's kids, bookworm intellectual Zoe (Olsen) and awkward aspiring filmmaker Jake (Wolff). For some reason, Diane has been motivated to reconnect with her mother after her husband (MacLachlan) asks for a divorce.
Do I even need to tell you that Grace helps Diane let her hair down and get a new life started? Probably not. But even beyond that, it's almost shocking how perfectly all the other pieces fall into place, with Zoe finding a less cultured beau (Crawford) to help her get over herself, and Jake getting a hippie girl (Marissa O'Donnell) who unties his tongue. This embarrassingly dopey set of characters talks either in textbook political phrases or in the aforementioned hippie-twaddle, and even the talented cast can't salvage the material. Keener, usually a vivacious talent, seems truly embarrassed here, and I don't blame her. I think I cringed more watching this film than I did looking at the pictures of that poor dude who got his face chewed off down in Florida.
And then there are those damn hippies. They protest for no conceivable reason, they dance around a fire chanting "Luna," they prattle on about dreams involving sparrows puking up butterflies. For a film that tries to portray hippies as both good and misunderstood in the end, it sure wastes a lot of energy making them unbearably daft. Ironically, Fonda actually was a real-life hippie herself. She of all people should have had the sense to call bullshit on this mess. —Patrick Dunn
Now playing at the Main Art Theatre.