Shirley MacLaine plays a grouchy OAP in this cookie-cutter comedy with a ridiculous premise. She is Harriet, a life-long control freak and affluent former advertising whizz, who decides to micromanage her own eulogy before she dies. Harriet demands the assistance of the local paper’s obituary writer (Amanda Seyfried), a twenty-something wannabe essayist who reluctantly takes on the job only to discover that no one in Harriet’s life, professionally or personally, has a nice word to say about her. Even the local priest thinks she’s hateful. So the unlikely pair embark on a quest to transform Harriet’s legacy. Tasks include reconnecting with estranged family and taking a young African American girl called Brenda under her wing.
Anyone who has ever seen an indie comedy will know exactly where this is headed from the off – every plot point is blindingly obvious. It has some interesting things to say about the human desire to leave a meaningful mark on the world, but the movie doesn’t dwell on them.
While MacLaine and Seyfried do the best with what they’ve got, ‘The Last Word’ is pedestrian and predictable. It is harmless, though, too. You won’t believe a single minute of it, but you might, despite better judgement, find yourself caring by the end.