Director: Andy Tennant
Cast: Shirley MacLaine, Jessica Lange, Demi Moore, Billy Connolly, Howard Houseman, Santiago Segura, Rebecca Da Cost
Runtime: 1 hr 32 mins
Rating: PG13 (Brief Coarse Language)
Released By: Shaw
Opening Day: 15 September 2016
Synopsis: Eva (Shirley MacLaine), a widow and retired history teacher, enjoys a quiet life in the tiny town of Liberty, Ohio. Everything changes when EVA receives a life insurance check accidentally made out for $5,000,000 instead of the expected $50,000. At the not-so-gentle urging of Maddie (Jessica Lange), her best friend, Eva deposits the money and takes the chance it offers them to escape from small town life. Their destination is the Canary Islands and they have every intention of living it up. But their fantasy is short-lived when they awake to discover that they have become media sensations overnight and fugitives from justice, forced to outwit a trio of conmen, led by the local Wine “warlord”, Carlos (Santiago Segura), outmaneuver a dogged social security agent Vespucci (Howard Hesseman) who has teamed up with Eva’s daughter, Crystal (Demi Moore), and outrun the law.
In this quirky comedy directed by Andy Tennant (Hitch, Fool’s Gold), the grand dame of Hollywood Shirley MacLaine teams up with Oscar winning actress Jessica Lange to teach youngsters some lessons about growing old and still having fun.
Eva Fenton (MacLaine) is a retired history teacher who has just lost her husband. With a pending mortgage on hand, her only daughter Crystal (Demi Moore) plans to sell her house and send her to a retirement home whom Eva funnily commented as “out of sight out of mind”. Her best friend of forty years, Maddie (Lange) isn’t having a great time either. She is not exactly in the pink of health and her husband just left her for his 25 years old secretary. So when the life insurance company accidentally sent Eva a cheque of $5 million instead of $50k, Eva and Maddie decides to take a vacation to an unexpected place where conmen, a kingpin and a security agent gathers - the Canary Islands.
When it comes to dramas or comedies on old age and retirement, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Quartet comes to mind. Those two probably are the gold standards of dramas starring a fine ensemble of veterans; Wild Oats unfortunately is not as polished as the two. The plot is flimsy and only one word can describe the comedy – tepid. Andy Tennant attempts to pull of a naughty adventurous comedy involving two elderly folks. Either he does not have the budget to do that or he simply does not have the skill to do so. One will spot from a mile away the up-to-no-good perfect gentleman played by Billy Connolly and to make matters worse, it’s actually pretty cringing to watch a fine actress liked Lange playing a sex-starved cougar.
Shirley MacLaine at the age of 81 still pulls in the occasional wry humor but you can’t solely rely on your leading lady for the entire 96 minutes. There are some worthy light moments involving the security agent (Howard Hesseman) from the insurance company and Crystal though it’s far too less to make an impact. I have no idea why there’s a Kingpin and a machine gun appearing for the unnecessarily prolonged finale except to make some loud noises to wake up the dozing audience.
Wild Oats underwent a tumultuous production process and it didn’t really hit the jackpot when it opened in the States. Shot in the fantastic looking Canary Islands, Spain with some throwaway sex and Viagra jokes, frankly it’s not a movie for the masses especially the younger crowd but likely worth a look for older cinema goers during the slower weekdays.
(Overall a wasted effort for actresses Shirley MacLaine and Jessica Lange)
Review by Linus Tee