Thursday, April 18, 2013

Jane Fonda: What's So Funny About Peace, Love and Misunderstanding?

Jane Fonda as Grace in Peace, Love & Misunderstanding
It's the role of a lifetime for Jane Fonda. No, not Nancy Reagan. It's the hippie grandmother Grace in 2011's Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding, now being shown on The Movie Channel.

Fonda plays the mother of uptight attorney Diane, played by Catherine Keener. Diane brings her two teenage children to her mother's after their father demands a divorce, and it turns out to be a healing journey and cultural clash.

Grace, whose home reeks of pot, deals a little on the side and introduces her grandkids to the wonders of the weed. It's done intelligently, with Grace resorting to it before losing them to an evening of them closing down (as so many teens do). Afterwards, she gives them sage advice: stay away from the brown stuff (heroin) and nothing up the nose (cocaine).

It's the first Fonda has toked on film since 9 to 5, where she plays an innocent who finds her inner strength with the aid of weed and some gal pals. Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding is part Harold and Maude, part Pineapple Express and although some would say it's a bit contrived or heavy-handed, it's well worth seeing for Fonda's performance.

Jane was observed smoking some weed at a recent Oscar party and in 1969 asked Rex Reed, "You don't mind if I turn on, do you?" before he interviewed her the year she won a well-deserved Oscar for They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

She's still vilified as "Hanoi Jane" even though she spent the war advocating for veterans. Fonda's thoughtful film about the Vietnam War, Coming Home, was trounced at the Oscars in favor of the controversial The Deer Hunter. Recent controversy is about Jane playing Nancy Reagan in a forthcoming film, and there's a note about Reagan in Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding.

The child of a famously stoic movie icon father and a beautiful mother who killed herself when Jane was 12, she played out her relationship with her father onscreen in On Golden Pond while getting her body bikini ready. She was also great as Lilian Hellman in Julia and in her current turn as a network executive on TV's The Newsroom.

Still getting roles at the age of 75, we're looking forward to more insight and enlightenment from Lady Jane.

UPDATE 8/14 - Fonda was honored with an AFI Life Achievement Award at a splendid ceremony with tributes from Lily Tomlin, Michael Douglas, Meryl Streep, Ron Kovic, Jeff Daniels, Peter Fonda, Troy Garity (her son with Tom Hayden, pictured) and many more. I hadn't realized that, among her other many accomplishments, her movie 9-5 helped launch the SEUI. Fonda commented that it was good to see the award go to a woman; earlier winners were Bette Davis, Lillian Gish, Barbara Stanwick, Elizabeth Taylor, Barbra Streisand, Meryl Streep, and Shirley MacLaine.

UPDATE 12/14: Fonda, in one her last appearances on HBO's The Newsroom, utters the line, "I sold my clothes, dealt a little pot.....Just kidding, I didn't sell my clothes," when her character Leona is trying to come up with funds to buy back her network. The role was doubtlessly informed by her marriage to CNN's Ted Turner. Recently we uncovered an exchange between Fonda and Bill Maher where Bill tries to get her to out Turner as "a big pothead" and Fonda gets an admission from Bill instead.

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