“Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding” is as disconnected from the audience as the characters are from each other in this not so groovy film.
Grace (Jane Fonda) is the tie-dye sporting unofficial hippie mayor of Woodstock, full of endless knowledge and love to give. Her estranged daughter Diane (Catherine Keener) is an uptight conservative lawyer fleeing New York City after her husband Mark (Kyle MacLachlan) serves her with a divorce.
You would think that this would be a hilarious odd couple combination in which hilarity ensues, but the lame jokes in the film fall short in the attempt of being a satirical love letter to the 1960s. Instead, the film makes fun of the ganja-smoking, ageing hippies on a surface level that any ignorant fool or child is capable of doing.
The depth of most of the punch lines equate to laughing at hippies for being different because they still believe in making love, not war.
The characters in the film have a lot of baggage and quickly unload from the start. Upfront we are told that Grace hasn’t seen her daughter in 20 years, and has never met her grandchildren.
Unfortunately, we don’t have a solid reason for why the prodigal daughter took so long to return. Because of this, you don’t like Diane for coming off as cold and stiff, and heartless for keeping her children from seeing their grandmother for whatever inexplicable reason.
Diane’s daughter, Zoe (Elizabeth Olsen), quickly connects to her grandmother with her vegetarian and animal activist views. Her brother Jake (Nat Wolff) is an awkward teenager who wields a camera around everywhere he goes, and grandma gives him a few pointers at winning over a girl.
Then, there’s Diane’s love story that quickly unfolds. She goes from being a no fun uptight lawyer, who just started the divorce process the day before, to skinny dipping in a lake with her new crush Jude (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).
Not only is there too much going on in this film, but conflict seems to be thrown at every corner. Diane tells her mother not to be so hippie around the kids, so Grace turns up the free love gage. Our activist Zoe falls for the local butcher Cole (Chace Crawford), and Jake is just awkward and doesn’t know what to do about a girl liking him.
The film moves far too quickly and tries to encompass far too much to ever really dive deep into a character or the issues that they have with one another.
The conflicts in the film that should come off as complex issues, like realizing that your parents are full of flaws and insecurities like you, appear to be nothing more than teenage melodramatic woes.
The film had the potential to be poignant about the relationships of parents and their not always likeminded children, but instead turned out to be bland with lame jokes that just leave you disappointed.