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.
The Palm Springs residence where Mack and her friends stay while in town, said to belong to Betty (Lois Smith), a nonagenarian friend of Carla’s mom, is actually a Los Angeles locale. In real life, the attractive one-story midcentury abode can be found tucked on a sleepy cul-de-sac at 1030 San Rafael Ln. in Pasadena’s tony San Rafael neighborhood, about 10 miles north of downtown L.A. (Please remember this is a private home. Do not trespass or bother the residents or the property in any way.)
It is not unusual for Los Angeles to play the Coachella Valley onscreen. South Pasadena’s famed Cox House has popped up as a desert pad in a couple of productions, the 2020 comedy “Palm Springs” was shot almost entirely in the Agua Dulce area and both Granada Hills and Venice were faked as the city in Will Arnett’s 2016 comedy series “Flaked.” Cheating the two towns is typically carried out for budgetary and convenience reasons.
As Aselton expressed to Forbes, several logistical changes and financial cuts had to be made to the original “Mack & Rita” script due to pandemic regulations and restrictions, including striking an entire sequence that was supposed to take place at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. As such, the production team made the economical decision to use a home within the Thirty Mile Zone as Betty’s desert residence, where quite a lot of action takes place. A bit of Hollywood magic – i.e., establishing aerial shots of Palm Springs and a digitally-added backdrop of the Santa Rosa Mountains – was employed to sell the structure as an authentic desert locale. The result? A spot that believably reads Palm Springs without requiring cast and crew to leave the confines of Los Angeles County.
The dreamy MCM was originally designed in 1961 by George “Dick” Edgley and Gene Colletta of the Alhambra-based Colletta & Edgley general contracting firm. Boasting three bedrooms and three baths in 2,643 square feet, the dwelling last sold in 2009 for $1.52 million. It has been significantly updated in the years since, as these more recent photos as compared to the 2009 MLS images attest. Although it boasted fine midcentury bones in its pre-reno state, the interior was decidedly dated (and not in a fashionable way), skewing more 1980s than 1950s, with tiled countertops, frosted glass shower doors and white carpeting stretching as far the eye could see.
The rehab tastefully brought the place back to its midcentury roots. Today, the residence is awash with clean lines, dynamic textures, concrete screens and mirrored walls. Gone are the flat white cabinets and tiled flooring, replaced with sleek wood and cement versions. The bright, open layout takes full advantage of the floor-to-ceiling glass walls overlooking the lush backyard and is grounded by a striking double-sided floating fireplace at its center. Heavily stylized, the pad is a vintage dream! And its current estimated worth – about $3 million, double its 2009 selling price, per Redfin – reflects that.
The residence’s exterior and interior were both utilized in “Mack & Rita.” Much of the homeowner’s actual furnishings were even left intact for the shoot, though production designer Tracy Dishman did bring in some embellishments, infusing the property with a healthy dose of modernist chic by way of a shag rug in the living room, lacquered trays in the kitchen and an Andy Warhol-esque print above the fireplace, all in bright poppy hues. Much like Mack herself, the abode, as dressed for the screen, screams “glam-ma,” with highly aspirational vibrant prints, bold colors and a retro vibe.
The home’s backyard appears in the production, as well, with Mack humorously jumping into the pool – fully clothed and donning thigh-high snakeskin boots – shortly following her age transformation. As evidenced onscreen and via Giggster (which is like an Airbnb for film locations), the property’s exteriors are an absolute entertainer’s delight, complete with the aforementioned pool, a hot tub, several grassy expanses, a loggia spanning the entire rear of the residence, a rock-climbing wall, a tube slide, a built-in BBQ, a screened courtyard, a guest unit and a putting green! The dwelling would truly make for the ultimate Palm Springs party pad, if only it was actually located in Palm Springs!