Moving On – Toronto 2022

Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda in Moving On. Courtesy of TIFF.

Moving On might have some touching moments of drama but the Jane Fonda/Lily Tomlin team-up is full of nonstop laughter.

The two actresses are fresh off of Grace & Frankie and at it again. This time, they play a pair of best friends, Claire (Jane Fonda) and Evelyn (Lily Tomlin), attending the funeral of college roommate, Joyce. Both of them want to get revenge on Joyce’s widower, Howard (Malcolm McDowell), for previous events that transpired. Easier said than done, of course. Because Claire flew in from Ohio, acquiring a gun in California is simply out of the question. Why does Claire want a gun? For one, she wants to kill Howard. Musically and visually, it feels like some scenes were written, blocked, and scored as if they were standing in a Western film with the way that Claire and Howard eye each other near the film’s beginning. I think the fact that Fonda and McDowell meeting for the first time makes for an even more compelling performance.

In coming back to town, Claire also reunites with Ralph (Richard Roundtree), who she knew from back in the day. The past is really coming back to haunt these characters, for better or worse. Joyce hasn’t even been dead for long before secrets start coming out. How Howard and daughter Allie (Sarah Burns) react to the news, well, you’ll just have to watch the film.

There is rarely a moment on screen in which they are not gunning for laughs. I give a lot of credit to not just their performances but a very hysterical script from filmmaker Paul Weitz. He’s no stranger to having projects with Tomlin or McDowell but this time around, he adds Jane Fonda and Richard Roundtree into the mix. The result is comic gold. A light touch of drama here and there but for the most part, it is comic gold. Regarding the drama, these moments–such as grief and trauma–allow the film to slow down and breathe for a moment or two. Otherwise, everywhere you look, there’s another joke. Speaking of jokes, I laughed so hard during the world premiere that Apple CEO Tim Cook would probably recognize my laugh by now.

The chemistry in this film is amazing but that’s also what happens when you have actors who have worked together previously. It’s not unfair to say that you’re watching sheer brilliance take place on screen. I cannot stress it enough that Paul Weitz knows how to write to Lily Tomlin’s strengths. There’s even a transgender joke here but it’s one that does not punch down at trans people. The fact that I was laughing up a storm at said joke should tell you that it’s tasteful and not offensive.

It’s probably in your best interest to not eat or drink during the movie. I wouldn’t want you to choke to death from laughing. Your seat neighbor probably wouldn’t appreciate you spitting your drink all over their head or clothing. That’s how much laughter there is here and there are some times where, if you’re like me, you might find yourself bending over while laughing.

Moving On is a sales title out of Toronto. Any studio that acquires the film has an all-around winner on their hands and some award-worthy performances, too. When women reach a certain age, good roles start getting harder to come by. This is a film that has not one but two showcase performances on display for both Fonda and Tomlin. Plus, McDowell and Roundtree also get some spotlight performances. Even with McDowell playing a not-so-nice character, you still find yourself rooting for him!

A good comedy feels hard to find these days but Moving On is something special.

CAST: Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Malcolm McDowell, Richard Roundtree, Sarah Burns

Moving On holds its world premiere during the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival in the Gala Presentations program. Grade: 4/5

Please subscribe to Solzy at the Movies on Substack.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.