The Last Word
Drama, Comedy
IMDB rating:
Mark Pellington
Shirley MacLaine as Harriet
AnnJewel Lee Dixon as Brenda (as Annjewel Lee Majestic Dixon)
Valeri Ross as Wanda Byers (as Valerie Ross)
Yvette Freeman as Housekeeper
Thomas Sadoski as Robin Sands
Gedde Watanabe as Gardener
Anne Heche as Elizabeth
Adina Porter as Bree Wilson
Steven Culp as Sam Serman
Tom Everett Scott as Ronald Odom
Todd Louiso as Dr. Morgan
Joel Murray as Joe Mueller
Storyline: Harriet (Shirley MacLaine) is a successful, retired businesswoman who wants to control everything around her until the bitter end. To make sure her life story is told her way, she pays off her local newspaper to have her obituary written in advance under her watchful eye. But Anne (Amanda Seyfried), the young journalist assigned to the task, refuses to follow the script and instead insists on finding out the true facts about Harriett's life, resulting in a life-altering friendship.
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Great little movie
Cleverly written, this little film is a gem and shows that a good movie doesn't have to be a big blockbuster. AnnJewel Lee Dixon is wonderful and her personality shines through every scene she is in. Shirley MacLaine, while getting older, shows she still has "it." While my wife cried at the end, I didn't think of it as a typical "chick flick."
Inventive and entertaining, one of the better movies of 2017.
My wife and I watched this at home on BluRay from our public library. We both enjoyed it as a great character study with a few life lessons.

I have long been a Shirley MacLaine fan, now in her 80s she delivers a spot-on performance as Harriet, formerly successful businesswoman and now very wealthy in Southern California. She has a very controlling personality, probably obsessive-compulsive, and one day while reading some obituaries she decides she doesn't want to leave hers to chance so she looks up the local newspaper reporter who writes them.

Harriet has long been a well-funded advertiser and is important to the newspaper so she has no difficulty convincing the editor to honor her wishes. The obituary writer is Amanda Seyfried as Anne. She has many of Harriet's characteristics but is not yet confident enough to write the stories that she really wants to write.

Harriet has analyzed obituaries and decided that there are 4 key elements and she is missing one, the unexpected feat for the obit's intro. So she decides she will bridge that gap by finding a disadvantaged "at risk" child to mentor. She finds AnnJewel Lee Dixon as the charming but foul-mouthed Brenda. She too has many of Harriet's characteristics.

So, as the stories move forward it centers on this rag-tag trio who seem to have nothing in common but end up helping each other realize some changes that each needs to make. And, as Harriet is diagnosed with congestive heart failure the writing of her obituary takes on fresh importance.
A Vehicle for Miss MacLaine
Any film with three generations of women that take a road trip has fall within the main definition of a chick flick. In the case of "The Last Word," this motion picture is offers a star turn to Shirley MacLaine, who plays a retired advertising executive who enlists a young reporter to write her obituary...before she dies.

The super control freak played by Miss MacLaine is named Harriett Lauler, who has even conceive for the reporter the four key ingredients of a good obituary in which the deceased is described as having been loved by family, respected by co-workers, beloved of a special person whose life has been uniquely touched, and a "wild card" with an unforgettable opening line in the tribute.

Anne Sherman (Amanda Seyfried) has the unenviable task to research Harriett's life and somehow write an obituary that will satisfy the woman who is described by her daughter as having and obsessive-compulsive personality. As Anne interviews Harriet's acquaintances, co-workers, and family members, there are some humorous moments and memorable one-liners, such as Harriett's description of compromise in a marriage: "Compromise meas that two people are miserable instead of one." It was somewhat of a stretch to believe that the young writer had a transformative experience in her relationship, making the decision to pursue her dream of becoming a more substantial writer and traveling to southern Spain to visit the plains of Andalusia. There was also a strained effort to develop the theme of "taking risks" in life "living up to one's potential." Those were the primary factors in how Harriett led her life, as marvelously portrayed by Shirley MacLaine.
for real music lovers and a delightful movie!
I loved this movie! I wasn't sure I would like this movie. not because I don't like shirley mc laine. Because I love her work. But because I hadn't heard anything about the last word. What a great movie! the story is beautiful and it takes the person watching it to feel involved with her journey and the people that get to know her learn a great lesson. the MUSIC is magical!! I am not sure who they all were but I want to find out if there is a soundtrack!I heard the kinks. But really must not have listened to them. since they were some of the musicans in this movie. love music and a good story. watch this delightful move the Last Word
Waste of a wonderful talent
This review of The Last Word is spoiler free

** (2/5)

AS WITH EVERY other film were an octogenarian is the lead, The Last Word opens with a set of photos and a kick-back retro song to show the life that they once had. Here the octogenarian is Hollywood legend Shirley MacLaine who at 83 years old has had one stunning career, from Billy Wilder's The Apartment to James L. Brooks' Tears of Endearment she's been in it all. And every time she's given stunning performances, she's no stranger to the spotlight. In her latest starrer The Last Word she plays Harriet Lauler, a retired businesswoman who likes to control everything and everyone, in turn leading her to be one of the most hated people.

We open with her alone in her lavish manor, she's sad, almost tear-filled and for a while the sympathetic feeling this leaves is effective. She decides that she wants her obituary written, she employs young journalist Anne (Seyfried) to write it for her. Who learns the truth about Harriet's life, asking people what she's like as a person, it's much the same answer; she's mean, controlling, angry and hated, thus ending the sympathy we feel for in the opening. Anne decides to tell Harriet the truth, and she makes an attempt to change her life.

MacLaine is the polishing appearance, giving an honest and brave performance she makes you feel for her, she's a loving grandmother type figure to her young high-spirited intern Brenda (Lee Dixon) and she's a good friend to Anne, as the lead it takes a while to warm up to her. By the time she warms up to her sympathetic measures – it goes away. To be fair, you can't blame director Mark Pellington who has had many big screen hits since his 1997 debut Going All The Way, it's the material that's to blame, it's predictable, clichéd and misguided – it doesn't work as a comedy. There are elements of comedy that spark there are a couple of gags more notably expressed from Brenda, this little girl brings heart to the film, she's energetic and has a lovable attitude, using her extensive f-bombs to change Harriet's ways of life.

The third act brings the most life to MacLaine's shining star power, when she's on her last words she shows strength of being a good person, something that the previous hour muddled up. The Last Word is an un-funny, predictable, clichéd, misguided and a sort of trashy excuse for a redemption story that doesn't deserve the polished star power of a long-lived Hollywood legend.

VERDICT: Although MacLaine fiercely gives her all, this is a misguidedly dim comedy-drama with fiery good intentions that push it through its ideas, but not enough heart to complete them.
Very predictable but it gets by on strong acting and humour
An elderly business woman hires a young newspaper woman to write her obituary on her terms. Her forthright personality has left her with few friends in life and poor family relations, she is forced to change her ways belatedly to try and leave a better legacy.

Firstly, it does have to be admitted that this film is extremely predictable and it's not very difficult more or less working out the plot-line from the word go. As far as the story goes, there aren't any surprises to be found here it has to be said. But, despite this over-familiarity, the film still works and that is a testament to the acting, primarily from Shirley MacLaine who puts in a strong, spiky performance which I would not be at all surprised if it garnered an Oscar nomination next year. She is loads of fun to watch and is supported well by Amanda Seyfried as the young journalist and AnneJewel Lee Dixon as the little kid she takes a shine to. It's essentially a comedy-drama and mixes the dramatics with the humour pretty well. It also has to be said that it isn't so common to have a movie focus on the latter years of the elderly, which it has to be commended for doing. So, there is that more unusual angle interwoven into the otherwise highly standard plot structure. Essentially, over familiarity aside, this is a very entertaining movie which has a great Shirley MacLaine performance topping it off.
A great tribute to Shirley MacLaine
The start of the movie is very touching. Baby, childhood, youth, and adult pictures of Shirley MacLaine are displayed over the opening credits, similar to a tribute to her at the Oscars after she's passed away (which we all hope will be many, many years in the future). Next, we are introduced to Shirley's character, an 81-year-old retired businesswoman who insists on having control over every aspect of her life. She trims her own hedges and improves dinner while her chef is cooking, but at the end of the day, she's enormously unhappy. She attempts suicide, but when she is revived, she has a sudden worry: she hasn't planned out her obituary yet!

Amanda Seyfried is the writer hired by Shirley to write her obituary before her death. Normally, a young female journalist character in a movie is written out to be utterly unlikable and ruins whatever scene she's in. I feared the same during The Last Word, however, as the movie progressed, she didn't wind up nearly as unlikable as I'd thought. And, given the choice of other actresses who could have been cast in the role (Emma Stone, Anna Kendrick, etc), I was very happy with Amanda's rendition of the character.

If you're a Shirley MacLaine movie, this is a must-see, especially since she's still alive. I can imagine watching this movie after she's passed away would be very sad. Instead, it's inspiring. Shirley is at first motivated to change her life because she wants a better obituary, but along the way, she starts enjoying life in its own right, and it's beautiful. The Last Word has the freedom of a "bucket list" type of movie, but with the motivation of enjoying life, not fearing death.
Loved this Movie
Just saw The Last Word, and got to hear the director speak afterward. I loved it. Heartwarming story, great character development. Serious, yet humorous - cute at times. Great movie about an elderly woman who is dealing with the final years of her life. Shirley MacLaine is outstanding. The little girl, played in the movie, by AnneJewel Dixon, is perfectly sassy. And Anne Heche gives a really great performance as MacLaine's daughter. I really enjoyed how MacLaine's character strengthened Amanda Seyfried's character and help her grow. It is very rare in Hollywood to see a movie focused on the issues that that the elderly face in their final years - and this movie does it in a touching way, sometimes lighthearted, sometimes serious.
Boring and irritating
This film tells the story of an elderly woman who is difficult and controlling. One day, she comes up with the idea of controlling what her obituary should look like. Therefore, she hires an obituary writer to work on the last words that would summarise her existence on Earth.

The first five minutes should have been a warning sign for me. There is little dialog, as the screen shows Shirley MacLaine's character, Harriet being grumpy by herself. Then, she is as difficult as can be, evoking no sympathy for her from me.

I can't quite bear her creating artificial relationships with Amanda Seyfried and the little girl either, as their bond with Harriet is contrived and unconvincing. Am I really to believe that you can chat up a little girl in the school yard, and subsequently take the girl on a one day trip without parental consent? The whole subplot of the little girl is seriously flawed.

The story is slow, and there is not enough content to fill the screen time. I felt seriously bored. I almost dosed off when Harriet does something similar on the sofa. Then something unbelievable happens. I cannot possibly imagine anyone does what Amanda Seyfried does in that situation. Her lack of action is entirely absurd and senseless.

Normally I like a brain off film with a predictable plot, but "The Last Word" manages to bore and irritate me.
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