[SPOILER ALERT: If you're interested in watching this film, bookmark this for later.]
When this small film, Wild Oats (recently released on DVD in the United States on September 16th) came to my attention, I was extremely interested in checking it out.
For one, it stars two award-winning actors, Shirley MacClaine and Jessica Lange. Second, it's a story about two older women, which comes in short supply in Hollywood. I especially wanted to explore this largely unchartered territory due to how much I love Netflix's Grace and Frankie.
Unfortunately, the story fell flat and it had nothing to do with the primary reasons I wanted to watch the film in the first place.
MacClaine and Lange (and even co-star, Demi Moore, who plays MacClaine's concerned daughter) did a wonderful job and were enjoyable to watch despite the pitfalls of the storyline. It was disappointing to see a story with such great casting fall so short of it's potential to be a truly memorable comedic buddy story.
Although the director, Andy Tennant, didn't nail a consistent tone throughout the film, the main problem was the writing. Like they always say in Hollywood - nothing can overcome a poorly written script, no matter how great the acting.
The main reason it fell flat is because the story was contrived and beyond predictable - especially once our best friends Eva (played by MacClaine) and Maddie (played by Lange) decide to party hard with the $5 million dollars Eva mistakenly received as payout from her recently deceased husband's life insurance company instead of the $50k actually owed to her.
Of course, they flew to a tropical island, went shopping at fancy retail shops and got life-changing makeovers. What else would women do if they fell into a bunch of money?
Although that really wasn't the worst part of the predictability of the film because let's be frank, a lot of women would have done the same (with myself included). It was the lack of effort to create anything original about how they went about it that ultimately made it feel stereotypical and boring.
It also didn't help that you could easily predict exactly how every man's role would play out in the story. For instance, the only thing unpredictable about Bill Connolly's character was Eva's attraction for him. It also seems that the audience was supposed to get that he was a senile con man except Eva - with the only plausible explanation given being her desperation.
I also knew immediately that the insurance agency's special agent Vespucci placed on the case to return Eva to the country with as much of the $5 million as possible was going to end up with her in the end. But what was even more disappointing is that there really wasn't much that happened throughout the story to connect them other than they both were old, alone and in close proximity of each other.
Last but not least, the younger man that sits next to Maddie at the bar, whose favorite movie just so happens to be The Graduate. Of course, she was going to get a younger guy in the end because her husband had left her for a younger woman so I knew she was going to end up with him.
Besides the predictability of the film, the payoff at the end also fell flat. The main theme is about confronting one's fear of being alone. But instead of the characters learning something different or interesting - like with or without a man, they won't be alone because they have their friendship - each character merely ends up with a new man.
In the end, this film just left me wishing for better story telling for these talented actors.