“Well meaning” can cover all sorts of behavior that may not be all that welcome by others. That can be particularly true when it comes to family, with a parent, sibling or someone else who always feel they know best what you should do in any situation. Sometimes they just can’t help but chime in and offer their advice on how you should handle that significant other, what you should say to that boss who’s honking you off and more. That may take the form of passive-aggressive commentary or could get worse, with a parent who still feels the need to fight the battles of their adult child or children.
That’s more or less the situation in The Meddler. Lori (Rose Byrne) is a successful screenwriter in Los Angeles. Her father recently passed away and her mom Marnie (Susan Sarandon) has decided to move from New York to be closer to her. But Marnie doesn’t just want to drop by every couple weeks for dinner, she wants to be all up in there with the advice that everyone should take about how to live their life. When Lori tries to push her away to a manageable distance, Marnie turns the force of her personality to others and finds different lives to chime in about, something that comes with its own set of both rewards and consequences.
There’s not much going on in the poster, but that’s alright since it tells you most of what you need to know. Sarandon and Byrne stand side-by-side, the former with a look of knowing what’s up on her face while the latter looks a bit beaten down and as if she’d just like to be anywhere else right now, a look familiar to most adult children dealing with their parents in just about any way. In the background are a bunch of palm trees so we get the idea that the story is set in southern California. The critics quotes that appear toward the top praise the movie’s comedy and the tone as well as Sarandon’s performance.
The movie’s trailer introduces us quickly to Marnie and shows us that she has few, if any, boundaries when it comes to her daughter Lori or the world in general. She’s always ready to make herself at home and make her opinion known. When Lori goes on a trip to New York Marnie gets involved in the wedding plans of one of Lori’s friends, which is sure to lead to complications. She also meets a guy her own age and they begin a relationship that is sure to provide some drama over the course of the story.
It’s a solidly amusing, if middle-of-the-road trailer. The major appeal here is a go-for-broke performance by Sarandon, who appears to just be giving zero cares about anything but having fun with such an uninhibited character. But as always Byrne should not be counted out as she’s consistently a reliable comedic force.
Online and Social
A pop-up window with the trailer opens the official website and when you close that you get a cropped version of the key art.
The first section of content is “Synopsis” which quickly outlines the relationship between Lori and Marnie and the situation they find themselves in. Keep scrolling down the page and you’ll find first the “Cast” and then “Filmmakers,” both of which have information on the talent involved and give you career overviews of those behind and in front of the camera. Finally, with the exception of another prompt to watch the trailer, is the “Gallery” that has quite a few stills from the movie.
The movie didn’t get its own social profiles so had to rely on promotion on Sony Classics’ core Twitter, Facebook and other profiles and pages. On Twitter the studio was using both #TheMeddler and #CallYourMother to try and spur some conversation and did plenty of RTing of Sarandon and others who were talking about the movie.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nothing I’ve seen.
Media and Publicity
The movie debuted to pretty positive reviews at the Toronto Film Festival last year, earning praise both for writer/director Lorene Scafaria and for Sarandon. It later also showed up at the Tribeca Film Festival just before release.
Sarandon was the focal point of the press, making appearances on “The Tonight Show” and elsewhere along with doing plenty of interviews and more. Scafaria also got at least one interview on her own where she was able to talk about the real-life inspiration for the story. Other than that press was generated by the release of marketing materials, clips and other assets.
It’s a nice little campaign that sells an amusing relationship drama about the boundaries that do or don’t lie between people and what exactly constitutes “helping.” The marketing focuses squarely on Sarandon and her character’s interactions with that of Byrne, but there are plenty of hints about a larger universe of people who Marnie in particular comes into contact with, sometimes explosively. In fact if you look at the trailer it almost looks like Byrne’s Lori kind of disappears for a third of the story as Marnie embarks on some adventures of her own.
But what I like about the campaign is that it seems to know exactly what it’s selling. There’s no big drama and there are no hints here at a “big” moment where one character breaks down into some Oscar-clip type diatribe. Instead the relationships between all the characters seems to just evolve and change – or not – at a gentle pace. I wish there were more here about some of the supporting cast but that’s a small gripe for a movie that looks like it’s all about the performances, particularly that of Sarandon, and that’s the big draw here.