Moving On Review: A Tonally Confused Comedy
A comedy film that premiered at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival is arriving in theaters. Paul Weitz’s new movie Moving On stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as two estranged former friends who reunite and conspire to murder their dead friend’s husband for revenge over an incident decades prior. While it’s fun to see another collaboration between Fonda and Tomlin after 9 to 5, Grace and Frankie, and earlier this year in 80 For Brady, this is a weaker outing as this is a tonally confused movie that does not seem to know what it’s doing.
The Hollywood studio comedy is dying. Comedy films like You People can sometimes go straight to Netflix without funny humor, while others like Champions are good while relying too much on the heartwarmth. Even a film like Cocaine Bear can be funny without meeting its full potential. Movies like No Hard Feelings and Joy Ride are heavily anticipated now because if Moving On is the state of comedy cinema, we’re not in the best place. The film opens with a funeral where Claire (Fonda) approaches the husband of the departed and reveals she will kill him.
Although the premise is simple and the movie only clocks in at 85 minutes, this movie somehow manages to be boring. This film is a strange hodgepodge of a lighthearted comedy and a dark drama about a murder quest. The movie has the color grading and performances of a comedy film, but tackling this premise humorously is almost impossible. It’s about two people trying to kill a person, which could be hilarious, but many decisions in the execution of this concept prevent the film from being a genuinely enjoyable viewing experience.
Firstly, Moving On features Claire, who has a clear goal and must accomplish a few side quests that get her closer to her destination. However, the side quests feel disconnected from her main story, and none are funny. Secondly, despite being a comedy, this movie features dark moments. Claire’s reason for wanting to kill Howard (Malcolm McDowell) is triggering. It is justifiable due to its dark nature, but the horrific recount of the tragedy in their past leaves a painful feeling in your stomach. With the knowledge of the backstory, there is no possible way to make this funny. Thankfully, the movie takes the serious parts seriously, but the mismatch between the opposite genres is incohesive.
Fonda and Tomlin both have chemistry and give excellent performances. McDowell, of A Clockwork Orange fame, proves his talent has never disappeared in the years as his despicable character. Richard Roundtree is a highlight as a friendly, charming character. However, they’re working with an unimpressive screenplay that never serves them well. The film has a few fun moments, but it needs to be more funny to warrant its existence. Moving On could have been as good as some of Weitz’s more substantial work, but instead, you’ll find yourself moving on from it very soon after the credits roll.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 4 equates to “Poor.” The negatives overweigh the positive aspects making it a struggle to get through.
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