Celebrating Grandmas on Film


Over at SpoutBlog, writer Christopher Campbell has recognized a segment of the cinema population too often overlooked: grandmas.  shirley-maclaine-rumor-has-it

His list of the 10 coolest grandmothers in movies is a pretty solid one. My favorites? No. 9: Sandy  Martin, who played the grandmother in “Napoleon Dynamite.” (How often have you used the phrase “dang quesadilla” because of this woman? In my case, the answer to that is: a lot.) And No. 3: Madame Souza in the animated gem “The Triplets of Belleville.”

As interesting as the list is, I do have one small quibble, as well as a few potential additions. First, the quibble.

Campbell honors Shirley MacLaine’s character in “Rumor Has It…” at No. 6 because she plays the supposed inspiration for Mrs. Robinson in a comedy that happens to be an awkward, excruciating attempt to riff on “The Graduate” while simultaneouly dragging down a talented cast that includes Mark Ruffalo, Richard Jenkins and Jennifer Aniston.  I humbly suggest that the role that actually merits MacLaine’s inclusion on this list is, perhaps, the cinema’s quintessential cool grandmother: Aurora Greenway in “Terms of Endearment.” I mean, the woman plays grab-ass with Jack Nicholson. If you’re that cool when you reach Nana status, send me a text message. I can almost promise you I won’t be.

Okay, quibbling over, now the additions. Campbell’s list got me thinking about some other pretty tremendous Hollywood grandmothers that also easily could have ranked in this rundown. They include Carole Cook, aka Grandma Helen (“Fred, she’s gotten her boobies”) from “Sixteen Candles”; Betty White in pretty much anything, but I’ll just say “The Proposal,” since that’s the comedy in which she most recently appeared as a grandmother; and Grandma Death (played by Patience Cleveland) from “Donnie Darko.” Fine, we don’t know for a fact that Grandma Death was actually anyone’s grandmother. But she wrote a book about time travel and the word grandma is in her nickname. As far as I am concerned, that gets her on the list.

Image: SpoutBlog

I have no doubt that there are many more grandmotherly film figures I have forgotten. So fill in the blanks: who are your favorite grandmas from the silver screen and why?