Tuesday, March 22, 2016

No Parking

If you're like me, you may have gone to see "The Lady in the Van" because you expected to be amused by some more comical banter from Maggie Smith.   I mean, that's what you've been getting from her via six seasons worth of "Downton Abbey."

Well, that's not what you get from this movie.  Indeed, what you wind up with is a long nap.   If you must see the film, make sure you do so in a theater with very comfortable seats and head rests.   You will need it.

To say that "The Lady in the Van" is dull would be an understatement.  So little comes out of this story that you think it's an offshoot of one of the Presidential debates.  And, frankly, those provide more laughs.   This tale, which the prologue says is a "mostly true story," is so sleep-inducing that it should have been produced by Ambien Films.

Maggie Smith plays this old homeless woman who drives up and down a London neighborhood in a beat-up van.  Much to the disdain of the people who live there, she chooses a home to park in front of until those neighbors insist she move on.  She winds up nestled in the driveway of Alan Bennett, the writer who eventually wrote the story this is based on.  Bennett's a little bit of a nut himself as he talks to himself throughout the film.  And plays a dual role of his conscience.  Uh huh.  Think a psychological extension of Hayley Mills' work in "The Parent Trap."

If only "The Lady in the Van" offered as much mirth as that Disney movie. Maggie is downright cranky and mean and, oh, yeah, she apparently smells from some very infrequent bathroom visits.  Apparently, her character was once an accomplished pianist, but you don't get enough back story to care.   All you do get are some endless conversations and arguments between Maggie and Alex Jennings as Bennett.  The same note is hit repeatedly.   It's the cinematic version of counting sheeps.   By the fifth note, your chin has hit your chest and your popcorn falls to the floor.

As much as I love Maggie Smith, she gets little chance to shine here.   All she does is complain and whine and grouse.  Who needs that?  Just find your crankiest old relative on Thanksgiving Day and turn them loose.   You don't need this film to have that experience.

I could write more about how thoroughly disappointed I was by "The Lady in the Van."  But, if I did, I would simply be saying the same thing over and over and over.

Hey, just like this movie...

LEN'S RATING:  One-half star.

Dinner last night: Chinese chicken salad.

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