The new film Ricki and the Flash features Meryl Streep as Ricki, an aging rocker (and leader of the band The Flash, natch) who never quite made it to the big time but still pursues her rock star dreams nonetheless. The movie's plot centers on Ricki returning home to the family she abandoned in favor of her music career decades earlier in order to help her estranged daughter, who is going through a difficult time after her husband leaves her for another woman. The film's story seems plausible, leaving many fans to wonder if it's actually inspired by real events. So, is Ricki and the Flash based on a true story?
Not quite, but there are a lot of real life elements that kind of come together in the film. Screenwriter Diablo Cody says she first got the idea for the film thanks to her mother-in-law, who fronts a local bar band in New Jersey. "I watched her on stage so many times," Cody told The Hollywood Reporter. "And I thought to myself, 'This woman's life is a movie.'" This idea combined with Cody's desire to create a film that featured a complex role for a woman over the age of 50, something Cody feels is a rarity in Hollywood. "You don't see a lot of juicy, complicated roles for actresses over 50," the writer said.
Cody also drew inspiration from her own life while penning the movie, since she herself has two young children whom she doesn't see as often as she would like to because of her career. "I often think to myself, 'Are my kids going to think it’s cool that I wrote movies or be angry that I wasn’t always there to pick them up?'" Cody says. "When I talk to friends of mine who grew up in the industry, they always seem really proud of their fathers’ success, but ambivalent about their mothers'. Is that fair?" Cody has also admitted that her directorial debut, Paradise, floundered because she was pregnant and raising one young child already while making the film, leaving her conflicted in her work.
Further adding to the film's realism is the fact that Streep's real life daughter, Mamie Gummer, plays Ricki's daughter in the film. Gummer told People about the art-imitating-life experience she had working on the film, saying, "There's this one scene where I really was quite eviscerating and I was worried about if my words actually wounded [Streep], but after the first take, I looked over and she just had this big grin on her face, so that was a pleasant surprise."
In order to achieve the rock star feel for the movie, The Flash is composed of real musicians: Rick Springfield, known for his hit "Jessie's Girl," is the band's lead guitarist. Their keyboardist is Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bernie Worrell, former Eagles' road band member Joe Vitale plays drums, and their bassist is the late Rick "The Bass Player" Rosas, who's played with numerous acts, most notably Neil Young and Joe Walsh.
So while the movie itself may not be based in reality, there's certainly a lot of truth in it. Check out the trailer for the film below, and see if you can spot the movie's real-life inspirations.
Images: TriStar Pictures (3)