The Last Word Movie Review

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I actually didn’t know too much about this movie before I saw it. Even when I knew I was going to see it, I didn’t watch the trailer or read anything about it until the day right before the screening when I randomly came across the trailer on accident. I’ve liked Shirley MacLaine since the first time I saw The Apartment, but this mostly looked to be a paint-by-numbers movie, so it’s not something that I was too seriously excited for, but I’m always excited to see a new movie at the theater, so let’s talk about The Last Word!

The Last Word is directed by Mark Pellington and stars Shirley MacLaine and Amanda Seyfried. After a long, successful, unfriendly life, Harriet Lauler, played by Shirley MacLaine, has decided to have a local newspaper journalist write her obituary prior to her death so that she knows everyone’s final thoughts about her life. The only problem is that nobody has anything nice to say about Lauler, typically a key piece in an obituary. Though the newspaper journalist isn’t completely on-board, Lauler must prove that she’s not all bad and establish a legacy.

I was definitely surprised by how much I liked this movie. I didn’t love it, but I thought that it had a lot to say about life and leaving a legacy. Nobody wants to be forgotten, and whether you’ve been nice or mean for your entire life, it’s hard to say that anyone deserves to be forgotten. Everyone deserves to leave some memories behind, and The Last Word captured aging very well. I know that I’ve thought about this exact scenario plenty of times. What if I get to the end of the line and have nothing to show for it and nobody to keep the memory of me alive? It’s kind of a depressing thought, but it’s something that people wrestle with all the time, and I think that The Last Word did a good job of addressing that. It also has two really great performances from Shirley MacLaine and Amanda Seyfried. Early on in the film, MacLaine’s character seems like she’s going to be extremely easy to hate, but by the end I actually came to a bit of an understanding about her through Amanda Seyfried’s character. I thought that MacLaine, Seyfried, and a little girl played by AnnJewel Lee Dixon had excellent chemistry. This movie has some decent laughs between the three main characters, and it’s mostly due to their odd back-and-forth banter.

Though I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, this film is definitely not perfect. My main problem with the movie is that events tend to just happen. Many times throughout the film things happen without any explanation and without any reasoning from prior scenes. Often times I was wondering why something was happening. It felt like the movie tried to cram a few different scenes in because the filmmakers thought it would be entertaining or funny despite having no context. It goes from Point A to Point C without ever stopping at Point B, and I had to wonder how we ended up at Point C because I couldn’t connect the dots. My only other problem is that this movie is exactly what you expect and doesn’t take any risks. Like I mentioned earlier, after watching the trailer, I was relatively confident that I could put the entire story together. Aside from the moments I mentioned earlier that seemed to randomly occur, you could easily predict the outline of the story with a character who isn’t the greatest person turning into a fully redeemed person through experiences with other characters. It’s your typical movie where a character isn’t really a bad person. He or she is just misunderstood.

Overall, I liked The Last Word more than I thought I would! I think that the reason I liked it as much as I did was because it says a lot about growing older and leaving a legacy behind. I think that’s an issue that a lot of people face. What am I doing to be remembered, or what am I doing to change the world with my existence? I think it’s a common thing for humans to wrestle with, so it’s definitely somewhat relatable. Shirley MacLaine and Amanda Seyfried are also excellent in their roles, and their chemistry is fantastic and makes for great comedy. There are many moments in this film that happen without an explanation or happen without context, and it does have a plot that you can very easily predict simply by knowing the premise, but at the end of the day, The Last Word will make you think about one of life’s biggest questions and challenge you to answer it. I’m going to give The Last Word a 6.3/10.

Will you be checking out The Last Word? Comment down in the comment section and let me know! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!

About Justin Lyons

Hey, it's Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at [email protected]