Laurel Canyon (review)

The generation gap is back, only this time it’s Mom who’s the pot-smoking, sleeping-around, rock-‘n’-rollin’ hippie and Son who’s the buttoned-down, responsible square. Serious med student Sam (Christian Bale: Reign of Fire) and his serious grad-student fiancée Alex (Kate Beckinsale: Pearl Harbor) come back from school in the serious East to live — temporarily — in the decidedly laid-back Hollywood Hills with former (and sorta still) flower child Jane (Frances McDormand: City by the Sea), Sam’s mother, who produces rock albums in her backyard and is boinking her latest client, Ian (Alessandro Nivola: Jurassic Park III), who’s young enough to be her son. Lisa Cholodenko’s slight but enjoyable exploration of the ensuing culture and generation clash is mostly notable for its terrific and always-winning cast — McDormand and Bale are gods, of course, but the real delight here is Nivola, who’s American but dishes out his English rocker with a big spoon, from the delicious accent and appealingly gritty singing voice to the ironically self-aware attitude. Hello, Cleveland!

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