Eye For Film >> Movies >> Along Came Wanda (2021) Film Review
Along Came Wanda
Reviewed by: Jane Fae
A memory jogged by a teapot from an old lover quickly turns into an adventure of discovery for Mary Beth Higgins (Constance Brenneman) and her newfound friend Wanda (Cathy DeBuono) as they hit the road in Wanda's soup truck. If that sounds like the set-up for a madcap comedy, that is to do it an injustice. Also, to miss the point.
Along Came Wanda does have its madcap moments, many delivered by Wanda herself in her role as 'disruptive element'. However, it truly is a lot more thoughtful than that. Also, a bit New Age, a bit late hippy.
It has its comedy moments: but mostly it is about the Journey, with a capital 'J'. First, there is the literal journey, as Mary Beth is on the verge of finalising her divorce. She needs time to explore her new life post-marriage. How better than on a road trip with Wanda?
Only, along the way are some fairly loaded landmarks. Their first stop-off is with a friend of Wanda’s who helps run a Meditation Centre. Some minor flirtation follows, as Mary Beth is invited to share a hot tub with apprentice guru, Laura (Monica Young). Then it’s off to meet another friend, Davina (Roberta Hanlen), who also happens to be a famous psychic.
Not exactly “meaning of Life” territory. A lot, though, of meaning of “Me”. Just who are you, Mary Beth? Laura wants to know. Davina follows through with a quick one-two about being true to yourself and making space for friends and family.
It is all very sweet, very saccharine. If it didn’t happen to mention on the label that a certain amount of same sex romance is on the cards…. Oh: did I forget to mention? The catalyst for Mary Beth’s adventure is the re-finding of a gift from the one and only time she had a relationship with a woman. There may be a clue there!
For all that, there is very little that happens on screen that you’d not see in your average PG Disney movie. The occasional half-kiss. Plenty of meaningful glances…and by half way through, the obvious will they/won’t they question in respect of Mary Beth and Wanda. No spoilers…and frankly, given just how philosophical this all gets in places, you’d be forgiven for not being able to predict one way or the other.
Bottom line: as a feelgood film about relationships, Along Came Wanda works well.
I was less convinced by the talking. Despite being a road trip, it is still mostly about the conversation. There’s a slow start, and a sizeable chunk of plot gets run out in exposition between characters. Also, between Mary Beth and you, the viewer. For the film has taken a slightly odd turn in having Mary B turn to camera from time to time, break the fourth wall, and explain how she is feeling at this moment.
In part, perhaps, a feature of this film being made during the pandemic - which gets referenced throughout: but also, likely, a very conscious choice by director and writer Jan Miller Corren.
So as well as making you feel better, this is about making you think. A bit.
Even less convincing was Wanda. Disruptive element, yes; outright clown, no. Except at times, that is what her role descended towards. No reflection on the actor. She did what she did well. Just that it all felt a bit incongruous. Also, I fear that by that magic midway mark, I was not her biggest fan.
Wanda! You are so annoying! Mary Beth: you cannot be serious! She’d drive you up the wall in two weeks flat…
We are allowed to not be in love with one half of the romantic interest…
This is not entirely my sort of film. But it is not a bad way to while away 90 minutes. You should feel better by the end…and a bevy of film juries and critics have liked it enough to dish out the best part of two dozen awards to it (as of January 2022).Reviewed on: 13 Feb 2022