Moving On

Moving On

2023, NR, 84 min. Directed by Paul Weitz. Starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Malcolm McDowell, Richard Roundtree, Sarah Burns, Catherine Dent, Marcel Nahapetian.

REVIEWED By Josh Kupecki, Fri., March 17, 2023

Claire (Fonda) has traveled to Southern California to pay respects to her recently deceased college chum Molly (Dent), but also to murder Molly’s husband, Howard (McDowell), because nearly half a century earlier, Howard raped Claire. It’s a secret Claire has kept, and now that Molly has passed away, all bets are off for Howard. But Molly’s funeral has also brought out Evelyn (Tomlin), another old classmate, and, it turns out, an ex-lover of Molly’s before Howard stepped in. So, when Claire confides her plan to Evelyn, it doesn’t take a whole lot of convincing for Evelyn to hop on board, accessory-wise.

Moving On’s tone is a hard one to pin down, since it’s constantly, uh, moving. It is predominantly a continued showcase for Fonda and Tomlin to gently trade barbs with each other and ruminate on the sadly specific lamentations of the twilight years. It’s a subdued Grace and Frankie, although here Tomlin trades in the hippie tendencies and instead channels Fran Lebowitz, all deadpan and side-eye. Fonda’s Claire is of single purpose here, but she does have time to reignite an affair with her ex-husband Ralph (Roundtree), and here the film dips into its heartfelt mode.

A boy who visits his grandfather at the assisted living home where Evelyn resides likes to play dress up with her clothes, and his parents are none too pleased. Molly’s daughter Allie (Burns) confesses to Evelyn that she found love letters written by Evelyn to her mother, still kept after all these years, and hidden from Howard. Which is the other thread to this shambling film, the whole rape-revenge plot which is supposedly driving these characters.

But it’s mostly played as a farce, until it gets really fucking serious, and then there’s a joke about Viagra. McDowell’s Howard is cartoonishly evil (even for Caligula himself), ultimately conceding that while the sex in question may have been rough, Claire really wanted it. Cue another murder attempt. It’s dull and wearisome and any attempts to resonate do so in the most calculatingly maudlin ways (drinking problems and pet obsessions being two glaring examples). The film never lets these characters earn anything, despite everyone ending up moving on in Moving On. You’re advised to do the same, when it materializes as one of your viewing options.

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Moving On, Paul Weitz, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Malcolm McDowell, Richard Roundtree, Sarah Burns, Catherine Dent, Marcel Nahapetian

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