By: Donna Freydkin
Cutting those apron strings is never easy. And it's especially tough if you're Marnie (Susan Sarandon), the widow who can't leave her adult daughter (Rose Byrne) alone. She texts. She calls. She texts to follow up on calls and vice versa. She barges in, she stays the night, and she plans on spending Valentine's Day with her offspring. It's a bit much. And it's very, very funny.
The film, opening Friday, was inspired by the real tale of writer/director Lorene Scafaria's mom Gail, who relocated to Los Angeles to be near her daughter and then, wouldn't back off.
In reality, says mom of three (and grandmother of one) Sarandon, she keeps an even keel around her two sons and one daughter. "I'm an equal-opportunity meddler. I meddle and they meddle back," says Sarandon. "I listen. I meddle by sending little packages and notes and texts."
She would never tell anyone whom to date or dump. But when her kids were little, she was also very involved in their lives, in a good way. "I was the mom calling to make sure there really was going to be an overnight and the mother was going to be there," says Sarandon. "They knew and liked that I cared enough to check. They understand that you care."
Even when your mom makes you blush in front of your ex, during an unfortunate restaurant encounter. "The Valentine's scene was very funny and fun to play. It was such an incredibly awkward situation," says Byrne.
And that's the point of the film, says Scafaria: the same mom that will interrupt your night with 15 phone calls will also show up with bagels and cold medicine when you're sick. "I always knew my mom would bail me out," says Scafaria.
Even Marnie's annoying traits aren't a bad thing. "It's with the best intentions," says Scafaria. "A lot of it comes from loneliness. She has a lot of love to give. My mom thinks we should have meddler celebration days."
In person, Oscar winner Sarandon is a force of nature -- sporting a foot brace after injuring herself mountain-climbing. She's also a serious activist, wearing a Call Your Mother shirt that benefits one of her charities, Hope North. But she insists she's not a paragon of bravery and fearlessness.
"Not true at all. I tell you, when I first broke up with my boyfriend, I couldn't even go out to parties or gatherings. I didn't want to be single. I got a little agoraphobic. I go through phases. I think the thing is, you just keep moving," says Sarandon.
Which brings us to a certain female superstar, whose "I was Here" plays a prominent role in the movie. The key to getting some Beyonce love? Write her a letter, says Scafaria. And she was on board.
"I sing to Beyonce in the car. She's a very important part of this movie," says Sarandon.