Abortion issues covered in movie

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If there’s any humor to be found in teenage abortions, “Grandma” certainly uncovered it. Lily Tomlin stars as Elle Reid in “Grandma,” a witty drama-comedy about a recently widowed matriarch helping her granddaughter find the cash to afford an abortion. Colorful performances and heartfelt exchanges allow for an emotional experience without becoming too sappy or preachy. In the search for the much needed $600, the two women are forced to approach estranged lovers, friends and family before the impending abortion appointment that afternoon. Underlying the search for the necessary funds are deeper issues regarding love, loss, death and the shortcomings of various characters. Quick to hand out judgments and consider herself above others, Elle is forced to confront her own failings as ghosts from her past emerge while she helps her granddaughter. “Grandma” can seem admittedly confusing at times, bordering on cliché and not always knowing whether it is a funny drama or a dramatic comedy. However, the moving performances and heartfelt material compensate for narrative deficiencies. “Grandma” is also unfortunately topical. As Planned Parenthood faces budget cuts in some states due to allegations of unethical practices, the theme of young girls having difficulty accessing safe abortion clinics could become more relevant. Reproductive rights are briefly touched upon, although political commentary on the controversial nature of pregnancy termination is barely addressed. A movie that focuses almost exclusively on motherhood and the relationship between mothers and daughters, “Grandma” has few male actors. The resulting female-dominated cast ensures a perfect score on the Bechdel test, a tool used to evaluate the presence of women in film. The Bechdel test evaluates how many women are in the movie, whether they talk to each other and if it is about something other than a man. The hope is that this measure will contribute to greater gender equality in cinema. Thought provoking and funny, “Grandma” is an emotional film that endears itself not just to women but also to those men who may have difficulty identifying with the subject matter. However, shortcomings in the narrative makes the film seem somewhat hollow and inconsistent.