TV & Movies

Landline Review: A Tangled '90s Throwback That Misses The Mark

But is it worth a watch? Depends what you're hoping for...

Landline review: Actress Jenny Slate lying on her stomach on a concrete block with a tree in the background and looking unimpressed, scene from Landline

(Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios)

For those who read the title of the new film Landline and wondered WTF that meant, congrats on being young and get ready to be transported to a time before texting. Yes, friends, we’re talking about the ’90s. From TLC’s new album to the return of Sweet Valley High, it’s clear that 2017 is the year of the throwback, and let’s just say that this new film is on trend.

Landline, which will be released in Toronto on August 4 and in other Canadian cities on August 11, comes from the mind of Gillian Robespierre, the same writer behind indie-fave Obvious Child—and you can tell. Jenny Slate (Dana) stars alongside Abby Quinn (Ali), with parents Edie Falco (Pat) and John Turturro (Alan) as a family that finds its way back to each other by being torn apart. While it’s described as a comedy, this film is more like a light family drama with a few good laughs peppered in. Think The Family Stone, not This Is Where I Leave You. 

The Coles Notes catch-up: 

As the title not-so subtly implies, Landline is about a simpler time before cellphones—but, as the film shows, relationships were complicated long before that was an available status update. The story follows a family of four in 1990s New York City. Youngest daughter Ali (Quinn) is partying her way through her teen years, testing her boundaries and pushing her parents and her older sister Dana (Slate) as far away as possible while avoiding college applications. While Dana is in many ways her sister’s complete opposite, she too is resisting life’s big milestones, which in her case, means her upcoming marriage to boyfriend Ben (Jay Duplass).

One night, Dana finds a computer file of love letters written by her father that do not appear to be intended for her mother—a discovery that sends the two sisters, and soon, the entire family, into a tailspin. The film takes a close look at how we treat the people we love most, and the fact that not all crises happen in mid-life.

TBH, this is what we thought:

Landline is a lot like those baggy jeans you wore throughout the 90s: full of good moments, but at the end of the day, there’s still some holes. Despite the family drama, the film keeps a slow and steady pace, which can make its 137-runtime feel much longer. The trifecta of Slate, Falco and Quinn is really what propels the movie forward. The dynamics between the three leading ladies will have you snort-laughing and occasionally give you a serious case of the feels. However, there are moments when it felt like as an audience, we’re not given enough backstory on who this family is and how they’ve developed their relationships. Why are Slate and Quinn initially not super close—is it just sibling rivalry or is it more? This family really goes through a lot in a very short time, but it feels like as an audience, we are still kept at an arms length.

TBH, some of the film’s greatest moments are given away in the trailer so if you really want to give this film a chance, go in with a blank slate.

You’ll love it if: 

You are a fan of Obvious Child and nostalgic for the age of Blockbuster and floppy disks.

Skip it if:

You’re hankering for Jenny Slate’s signature hilarity from Parks and Recreation. You’re better off sticking to reruns of the show because this movie is not going to fulfill your desire for outrageous LOLs.

Pair it with:

A Saturday girls’ night with Milk Duds (because #90s).

See it with: 

Your sister, or best friend who feels like a sister.

Don’t see it with: 

Your prudish grandmother—there are some love scenes that might make you both squirm if you’re at a matinee.

How you’ll feel walking out of the theatre: 

Jenny Slate pointing at the camera smiling and then shaking her head with a more serious face

(Credit: GIPHY)

Final rating: 

Two heart emojis out of a possible five

(Two out of five)

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