One of the best things about the film is that while Evelyn is the main antagonist, it is easy to understand her perspective and her motivations, when it would have been very easy to just portray her as an evil mother stereotype. There is depth and complexity to the relationship between her and Frank, as well as to the relationship between Frank and Mary. McKenna Grace is wonderful in her role as Mary who got a lot of laughs from the audience – she’s sassy, tenacious, and basically a grumpy old lady in the body of a child. If her performance hadn’t been good, it would have impacted the film a lot since she is at the heart of it and is responsible for all the emotional moments, so she is just one example of the solid casting. In addition, Chris Evans reminds us how under-rated he is as an actor; just watch his facial expressions during the close-ups in the court room scenes. He also manages to balance humour and emotion with his character – and as always, is incredibly likeable.
I didn’t have any major issues with this film, but there were a couple of things that could have been improved. Firstly, because there are quite a lot of characters fit into the story, some of them disappeared for a while in the middle or not enough time was spent with them. For example, it seemed that although Octavia Spencer is a supporting character and is a lovely character in the film, it didn’t take full advantage of having such a respected actress on board, so she could have been in it more. It was also noticeable when Jenny Slate’s character, Bonnie, wasn’t present for what felt like a big chunk of the film and her role became less important by the end. Having said that, the film did manage to demonstrate character through little things which were very effective. One other problem was that the shaky camera movement used a lot throughout the film, which did do a good job of creating a sense of intimacy, was sometimes distracting and unnecessary.
This is one of those films that will make the softies in the audience cry but luckily doesn’t quite make it into cheesy territory, and will hopefully make you laugh at least once. Although it does feel quite long, it is worth watching – especially for all the strong performances.