Diane Keaton may be considered the preeminent pioneer of the “coastal grandmother” style, a dreamy Nancy Meyers-inspired aesthetic marked by breezy neutrals, cozy knits and warm interiors, but in her latest movie, 2022’s “Mack & Rita,” the beloved actress’ look is less Hamptons-esque and more West Coast chic – or “glamorous grandma” aka “glam-ma,” as she is described mid-film. Sporting oversized fits, bold monochromatic ensembles and an array of eccentric headwear (many of which were the actress’ own), Keaton slays onscreen portraying the elder version of Mackenzie “Mack” Martin, a Los Angeles-based writer who visits a past life regression tent while on vacation in Palm Springs and winds up walking out transformed into her 70-year-old self. (Mack in 30-year-old form is played by “You’s” Elizabeth Lail.) So as not to tip anyone off to the miraculous life progression, Martin pretends to be her “Aunt Rita” throughout the remainder of the film, thoroughly embracing her advanced age and managing to find her true self in the process.
Directed by Hollywood multihyphenate Katie Aselton, the charming comedy, which is currently streaming on Hulu, hasn’t exactly fared well with audiences or critics, garnering a paltry 25% Tomatometer score on Rotten Tomatoes and reviews deeming it “cringe” and “an embarrassment all around.” The jeers haven’t phased Keaton though. When asked what she hopes people get out of the movie, in a response that echoes “Mack & Rita’s” central theme of espousing authenticity, the actress told Vogue, “Just to have a good time, lighten it up. If you want to think it’s stupid, then you don’t have to like it.”
Lensed primarily in Los Angeles over the course of four weeks in spring 2021, the stalwart production team captured footage from one end of the city to the other. A few notable spots featured include Silver Lake’s colorful Tacos Delta, the Calabasas outpost of Barnes & Noble, a Burbank California Pizza Kitchen, Lemon Frog Shop Vintage Bazaar in Echo Park and downtown L.A.’s Walnut Building, the brick and concrete-faced artist studio complex where Mack and her dog Cheese live alongside adorable neighbor and ”highly sought after” private wealth manager Jack (Dustin Milligan). Interestingly, the view-filled roof deck purported to sit atop the property, where Mack and Jack regularly hang out and partake of massive shrimp – “the for sure genetically-engineered” kind – is not located on the premises, though. That spot is actually the Broken Shaker bar at DTLA’s Freehand hotel, about 1.5 away. (Sadly, there are no crustaceans – large or otherwise – to be found on the lounge’s menu in real life.)
A handful of sequences were also lensed in the Coachella Valley, where Mack hosts a bachelorette party for her BFF, Carla (Taylour Paige), early in the story. To capture the picturesque desert-scapes, cast and crew descended upon such sites as Birba (an area staple since 2011) and Rick’s Restaurant and Bakery. (In truth, the two eateries are not situated across the street from each other as purported onscreen, but a good mile apart.) To create the fictional past life regression tent (“Regress and be blessed!”) where Mack transforms into Rita, the production team erected a temporary set in a dirt lot on the corner of W. Chino and N. Palm Canyon Drives, adjacent to Copley’s Restaurant, a famed establishment that once served as the guest house of actor Cary Grant.