Mack & Rita. 2022
Directed by Katie Aselton.
Starring Diane Keaton, Taylour Paige, Elizabeth Lail, Loretta Devine, Amy Hill, Lois Smith, Wendie Malick, Martin Short, Simon Rex, Patti Harrison, Dustin Milligan, Addie Weyrich, Nicole Byer, Aimee Carrero, Sara Amini, and Catherine Carlen.
A 30-year-old writer (Elizabeth Lail) spends a wild weekend in Palm Springs and wakes up to find she has magically transformed into her 70-year-old self (Diane Keaton).
The eponymous Mack (Elizabeth Lail) in the corny Mack & Rita narrates that she is a 30-year-old woman trapped inside an older woman’s body. Raised by her grandmother, Mack has always appreciated how older women carry themselves (assured of what they want and without a filter) and their fashion. None of this has made Mack incapable of making friends, but she has insecurities about being herself despite being a bridesmaid to close childhood best friend Carla (Taylor Paige).
While celebrating and preparing for the wedding rehearsal among the group of friends (many of whom come across as vapid and add a further reason why Mack feels like an odd duck), everyone becomes interested in attending a Bad Bunny concert. However, Mack wanders off on her own and stumbles across a past life regression pod run by the shady hippie Luka (Simon Rex). The pod turns out to be a magical tanning bed that, in conjunction with Luka’s speech about getting in touch with one’s true self, transforms Mack into the older woman she has always wanted to be, a 70-year-old woman played by Diane Keaton.
Following the initial freak-out and convincing Carla that Mack is inside this new body, she comes up with a white lie for everyone else that the woman is her Aunt Rita. She also uses the excuse of a writer’s retreat to explain her disappearance from the friend group while spending time at home simultaneously getting acquainted with her new body and researching the past life pod and wherever Luka might be now so that she can chase them down and reverse the changes.
There are not many positive things about Mack & Rita (directed by Katie Aselton from a script by Madeline Walter and Paul Welsh), which plays out somehow overblown yet conflict-free. Mack goes undercover as Rita by hanging out with Carla’s mom’s friend group, seemingly at long last having found her people. Struggling to make it as a writer, Mack is tasked with promoting social media accounts, which she starts integrating Rita into for success and popularity. Rita also has opportunities to enrich the older generation about the positives of technology and social media while learning that you have to experience youth to find happiness in old age.
The only scenes that offer a touch of naturalism come from Rita striking up a friendship with her dog-sitter Jack (Dustin Milligan), a man Mack pre-judges before the body transformation. Mack & Rita is a movie about nothing but syrupy and generic life lessons, so the character also learns it’s okay to keep up youthful activities like skateboarding even when aging into the forties.
It’s mildly engaging observing how far this friendship will go and what it will turn into, but there is a shockingly little payoff to the whole body swap aspect. It also must be said that some of the antics Diane Keaton herself involved in (such as a Pilates exercise class) routinely makes for an embarrassing performance that is never once funny. It’s almost fitting that the protagonist is named Mack because this movie is a cheesy slog.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com