Peace, Love & Misunderstanding: Jane Fonda and Catherine Keener Are Ill-Used

How much longer must we wait for a vehicle worthy of Jane Fonda, whose past few roles are just shy of elder abuse? Three generations of fine actresses are squandered in this incompetently structured film, which pits hippies against squares with the usual wearying results. This head-hammering, clash-of-values family-healing dramedy makes sure to literalize all its uplifting messages; gentle admonitions about “letting go” are immediately followed by a bright yellow balloon’s release into a cerulean sky. Reeling from her husband’s demand for a divorce, pinched Manhattan lawyer Diane (Catherine Keener) drives to Woodstock with her two teenaged children for a reprieve at the home of her earth-goddess mother, Grace (Jane Fonda). Diane, appalled by Mom’s pot-growing and free-loving, hasn’t spoken to Grace in 20 years; her children, Whitman-quoting vegan Zoe (Elizabeth Olsen) and twerpy aspiring filmmaker Jake (Nat Wolff), are meeting their batik-dress-wearing granny for the first time. Written by first-timers Joseph Muszynski and Christina Mengert and directed by old-timer Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy), PL&M chucks specific characterization and conflict for countless clichés (both visual and oral), pop-psych bromides (“I promised myself I would never enable her again,” Diane says after she bails Grace out of jail for weed-dealing), and semi-topical headlines (Chace Crawford’s butcher of organic meats lectures on GMOs).