From the first few moments of The Leisure Seeker, it's clear that it has little to add to the canon of road-trip movies. The wiggly, robin-egg-blue title card looks like something out of a Cheech & Chong movie. Then, from the RV passenger seat, Ella (Helen Mirren) asks her husband John (Donald Sutherland) what he thinks happens after death, a character-profiling exchange that wouldn't make it out of a freshman creative writing workshop.
Still, The Leisure Seeker is certainly less cynical than many one-last-ride movies about seniors (Last Vegas, The Bucket List, etc.), and international treasure Helen Mirren is a big reason why. She plays Ella's exasperation with her husband's rapidly deteriorating memory as prickly, selfish and real. And one scene in which Mirren acts alone with a glass of whiskey, a photo projector and a clothesline is evidence enough of why she is still one of the best in the game.
Across from her, Sutherland shoulders a hopeless task: coming in and out of lucidity in a film that's unsure whether to play John's dementia for tears, laughs or nervous squirming.
Ultimately, The Leisure Seeker falls into a pile of human-interest indies trying to tip the scales with charm and acting alone. This one doesn't transcend its pitch.
CRITIC'S RATING: 1/4 stars.
The Leisure Seeker is rated R and opens at Living Room on Friday, March 16.