Fonda’s Claire is a twice-divorced octogenarian who flies from Ohio to California after the death of her friend Joyce, announcing to Joyce’s widower, Howard (McDowell), immediately upon arrival at the funeral that she intends to kill him. Enlisting Tomlin’s Evelyn — who lives in a retirement facility, where she has access to a resident’s flare gun — as an accessory, Claire prepares to dispatch Howard. When she proposes a meeting with her potential victim, and Howard suggests they get together at a local park in the company of Howard’s daughter (Sarah Burns) and three grandkids, Claire replies, incongruously, “Perfect!”
That’s just one example of several actions that don’t add up, even in what is ostensibly a silly comedy. Tomlin, tart-tongued as ever, does her best to leaven the proceedings: There’s a throwaway subplot involving Evelyn’s mentorship of a young child (Marcel Nahapetian) who likes to wear her high heels and earrings, but it doesn’t go anywhere, and the charming, light touch of Tomlin and Nahapetian’s scenes together feels out of place in the larger context. A rekindled romance between Claire and her first husband (Richard Roundtree) — whose marriage is revealed to have disintegrated around the time of the old assault — is also a dead end.
All that aside, Tomlin and Fonda have a pretty nice, unforced chemistry together, cultivated over years of working together on “Grace and Frankie” and other projects (see “80 for Brady”). McDowell, on the other hand, is a more one-dimensional villain. His dark fate in the film is handled in a way that’s meant to be laughable — and is, but not in the way that’s intended.
There’s lots of moving on referenced in “Moving On”: death, divorce, gender transition and other momentous life events, including the letting go that Claire is, at least initially, so unable to achieve. But there’s something strangely static and unmoving at its center. It’s an emotionally stagnant affair, whether it’s going for laughter or tears.
R. At area theaters. Contains strong language and some mature thematic elements. 85 minutes.