Newspapers, radio stations, relationships—these are just a few of the things that The Last Word focuses on despite not understanding how they work. It’s a pat, tidy sitcom about Harriet Lauler (Shirley MacLaine), a wealthy retired businesswoman and cranky control freak who capriciously decides one day that her greatest desire in life is to be spoken of glowingly in her obituary. That will be tricky since everyone hates her, so she forces Anne (Amanda Seyfried), the local paper’s full-time obituary writer (not a real position at a small-town paper) to help her shape her legacy as she does some late-in-the-game good deeds. These include mentoring a disadvantaged young black girl (AnnJewel Lee) in an act of undisguised condescension and, for some reason, becoming a radio DJ. (She does this by walking in to the station and saying she wants to be a DJ. After her first shift she gets a round of applause from the staff, including the DJ whose job she took.) The film offers not a moment of authentic human interaction before wrapping up neatly with shallow platitudes, canceling out the pleasure of MacLaine’s feisty performance.
Director: Mark Pellington
Producer: Anne-Marie Mackay, Mark Pellington, Kirk D'Amico, Andrew Karpen, Dan Steinman, Teddy Schwarzman, Damiano Tucci, Phillip Goldfine, Dan Roth, Shirley MacLaine, Amanda Seyfried, Aaron Magnani and Kevin Forester
Cast: Shirley MacLaine, Amanda Seyfried, Thomas Sadoski, Philip Hall, Gedde Watanabe, Tom Everett Scott, Joel Murray, Yvette Freeman, Valerie Ross, Anne Heche, Steven Culp, Adina Porter, Todd Louiso, Chloe Wepper, Sarah Baker, Nikki McCauley, Marshall Bell, Jesse Burch and Marcy Jarreau