I managed to catch “The Leisure Seeker” during its one-week engagement at the soon-to-be-closing Lincoln Plaza Cinemas. Sony Pictures Classics releases one-week engagements every year, in order to qualify for the Oscars or Golden Globes, and so far, Helen Mirren is nominated a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy.
It’s the kind of movie that, in the words of the late great Roger Ebert, “sounds like a better idea than it plays like.” Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland play Ella and John Spencer, who both take their Winnebago, which they like to call “The Leisure Seeker,” on a road trip to Key West to check out The Hemingway House. That’s kind of a problem, because Ella has cancer and John suffers from memory loss. And because of that, their kids (Christian McKay and Janel Moloney) are worried sick, and no matter how many times they ask where they are, Ella never gives them their location.
Because of John’s memory loss, he forgets nearly half the people he knows, and forgets he is talking to Ella, thus proving to her he had an affair long ago. Ella is tired of dealing with their illnesses, mostly John’s.
There are times I did laugh, and most of the jokes involve toilet gags, as well as some memory loss moments. And another is when John tries to drive away from a cop, who just pulled him over for swerving out of his lane. The rest is just forgettable.
Mirren and Sutherland give okay performances, but the movie doesn’t tell me what their exact problems are. It’s hard for me to tell, because of the memory loss. At times, he remembers, and at times, he forgets. Julianne Moore played a woman with Alzheimer’s in “Still Alice,” and that was a very good movie. “The Leisure Seeker” has its moments, but it’s more depressing and confusing than entertaining.