Starring: Dakota Johnson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Zoë Chao, Bill Pullman, Eddie Izzard, Ice Cube, June Diane Raphael, Deniz Akdeniz
OUR RATING: ★★★☆☆
Comedy drama directed by Nisha Ganatra. The story is set world of the LA music scene and follows Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross), a superstar whose talent, and ego, have reached unbelievable heights. Maggie (Dakota Johnson) is Grace’s overworked personal assistant who is stuck running errands, but still aspires to her childhood dream of becoming a music producer. When Grace’s manager (Ice Cube) presents her with a choice that could alter the course of her career, Maggie and Grace come up with a plan that could change their lives forever.
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Our Favorite Quotes:'Being a producer is about having a point of view that you've earned over years of hard work.' - Jack Robertson (The High Note) Click To Tweet 'I'm happy with me. I am happy with me.' - Grace Davis (The High Note) Click To Tweet
Grace Davis: Do you guys like this song? Because I’ve been singing it for a long time. This was one of the first songs I ever recorded. Lee Moses wrote it. And when I played it for the label, they said, “Who wants to listen to this?” And you know what I say? “How do you like me now?”
Gail: [to Maggie] I manage the house, not the woman that lives inside of it. That’s your job.
Jack Robertson: It’s a residency, okay? And it’s my job to find us our next gig. This ain’t your grandmama’s Vegas. Lil Jon done played there. DJ Khaled. Let me do my job, and you do yours, which is, get her coffee, Kleenex, Kotex, and whatever else the hell we’ve been paying you to do for the last six months.
Maggie: Three years. I’ve been here for three years!
Gail: You get paid? I thought you were an intern.
Maggie: Jack, I just feel like it might be a good idea if she took a break.
Jack Robertson: That’s a good idea. And what I mean by “good idea”, screw you and your s**tty ideas. She just got back from Hawaii.
Maggie: That was work.
Jack Robertson: Yeah, in Hawaii.
Maggie: Jack, there hasn’t been a new Grace Davis record in a decade, and the fans want one. We need one.
Jack Robertson: Let me tell you something. I’ve been managing Grace longer than you’ve probably been alive. So you think she should do new material?
Jack Robertson: Okay. Guess what. Don’t nobody give a s**t about new material. Okay? That last album she did, it didn’t do as well as she had hoped. Matter of fact, those was not Grace Davis numbers, and you know it. That was a reality check, people letting us know it’s time to move on.
Jack Robertson: Don’t nobody want to go to no Yankee Doodle Springsteen concert and hear him play that Wrecking Ball folksy bulls**t.
Maggie: Actually, that was an incredibly poignant album, and it did extremely well.
Jack Robertson: People want Thunder Road, okay? And that’s what we going to give them. We’re going to give them Thunder Road. That’s how I pay my mortgage. But you wouldn’t know that, because your little a** ain’t got no mortgage. Crazy little girl going to tell me how to do my goddamn job. Always coming at me with some Springsteen s**t.
Jack Robertson: And I’m trying to do better. Taking my little Pilates. Got my spin classes. Eating my salads.
Grace Davis: Iceberg lettuce with a whole bunch of blue cheese on it is not a salad.
Jack Robertson: Look, menu say it’s a salad, it’s a goddamn salad.
Grace Davis: It’s not a salad.
Grace Davis: You’re going to get off the plane, Jack? How are you going to get off the plane?
Jack Robertson: I bought you the plane.
Grace Davis: You… Oh. My voice bought me this plane.
Jack Robertson: That’s a damn technicality.
[to her backing singers as they are practicing on stage]
Grace Davis: I’m not going to tell you guys you’re great if you’re not great! Do it again.
Grace Davis: For where we come from, getting locked into a Vegas residency, that is a win.
Grace Davis: I know everyone is happy with me doing the same show every night. I don’t know. What if… Whatever.
Maggie: I remember watching you on Oprah.
Grace Davis: Which time?
Maggie: When I was little.
Grace Davis: I’ve done Oprah so many times.
Maggie: And I think you were talking about your third album.
Grace Davis: Uh-huh.
Maggie: And you said this thing that I’ll never forget. I think about it all the time. You said, “When there are no more surprises, then who am I doing it for?”
Grace Davis: Oprah.
Grace Davis: Long time ago.
Grace Davis: So has this just been like a long con?
Maggie: Yes. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve dreamed of giving you an enema in Toronto.
Grace Davis: Okay. Do not bring up Toronto. You know what clams do to me.
Katie: So you didn’t talk to her about the album.
Maggie: No. You don’t understand. Katie…
Katie, Maggie: She doesn’t have any family, and no friends.
Katie: You’re not friends. We are friends. You know how I know we’re friends? Because friends don’t pay friends to be their friends.
Maggie: I actually feel like I pay for a lot of stuff in this relationship.
Katie: This is like a trap, you know?
Katie: You are not the only person in the world for her. You are my only person in my world.
Maggie: I know that. But if you told twelve year-old me, that one day I’d be working
for Grace Davis? I mean, she’s an icon. It’s the dream job. Or at least it’s like the gateway to my actual dream job.
Katie: It’s the gateway to like Stockholm syndrome.
Katie: Okay. You know what? Listen to me, Maggie.
Katie: Phone down. Eyes on me. I know you think that she’s going to give you this like life changing shot, and you guys are going to ride off into the sunset, holding hands, or some s**t. But I think we need to consider the possibility that this woman doesn’t even know your last name.
Maggie: She does, sometimes.
Katie: Do we really think she’s going to stop making you wear her shoes around the house to break them in, and, oh, I don’t know, make you her producer?
Maggie: She only did that once, by the way, and it was for the Grammys.
Jack Robertson: Look, when I agreed to come back, what did you promise me? Huh? You said you was going to listen to me this time. All I want to do is play it safe so we can stack some money.
Grace Davis: It’s pathetic.
Jack Robertson: No, you’re pathetic. Because you’re arguing with me, and your a** should be on vocal rest.
Grace Davis: I will decide what I want to do next.
Maggie: [to Grace] I did a cut of the album. I did a cut. Seth helped me. You hadn’t hired anybody to do it yet, and I didn’t want to tell you or Jack.
[over the speakers in the recording booth]
Jack Robertson: Hey, hey! We can hear y’all. Y’all know it’s a damn microphone in there, right?
[as she’s playing Grace her cut of a Grace’s song]
Maggie: This is the spine of the song. You’re always talking about how there has to be a heartbeat, something to hold onto and then give away, and this is it.
Maggie: [to Grace] You are the song. You should not be buried under all this flashy bulls**t. Sure, the track needs some mixing, and some editing, but you could release your demos, and they would be way better than anything that he’s ever, ever done.
Richie Williams: Yeah, right.
Maggie: I actually think you should release your demos, because I’ve heard them, and they’re unbelievable.
Jack Robertson: Who the hell you think you are? Missy Elliott?
Jack Robertson: [to Maggie] Do you know how long it took for Seth to get a little-bitty engineering credit? Being a producer is about having a point of view that you’ve earned over years of hard work. It don’t happen like this. You’re not a producer. You’re not a artist. You’re not a manager. If you want to be a producer, you find your own goddamn clients, and stay the hell out of mine.
Katie: Look, all I do is basically clean up biohazardous materials, but I get to walk around and call myself a doctor.
Maggie: That’s not all you do.
Katie: Exactly. Do not sell yourself short. You just produced a live Grace Davis album for no money and no credit. And you’re going to do it again. You know why? Because you’re following your dream.
Maggie: No, that’s not my dream. I don’t want to do that again. I’d love to get money and credit.
Katie: Look, you need to pull yourself together and tell your vision-impaired, fresh-breathed client that you are a producer.
Maggie: I am not a…
Katie: You are so lucky, Maggie. So you get out there, and you close that deal.
[at David’s party]
Katie: Did you know that Maggie is a music producer?
David Cliff: No, I didn’t.
Katie: Yeah, she’s amazing. I like to say the ear of our generation.
Maggie: Katie, thank you so much for coming to this party.
Katie: Got it. I’m going to see how much cheese I can fit into my bag.
[turns to Maggie and says quietly]
Katie: And then I’m going to look his house up on Zillow.
Maggie: Please don’t.
Katie: Can’t make any promises.
[referring to David’s jacket]
Maggie: Oh, my God. Do you wear this? What is that? This looks like Stevie Nicks ran over Jason Derulo with her car.
Maggie: So, if you can please just make sure that she takes the fish oil and the little green one after she eats dinner, because they upset her stomach.
Gail: Wow, you’re really the only person I know who make pills not fun.
Maggie: Is this your car?
David Cliff: Yeah.
Maggie: Should I sign a waiver?
Maggie: [to David] I grew up around music, and musicians, and people talking about music. My dad worked in radio, and my mom was a singer. And then I went to school for composing, and then immediately after, I started producing. If you could point to any time in my life, good or bad, I could tell you who I was listening to and how I got through it. And if I had the opportunity to work with an artist like you, and create something that could maybe make somebody, or anybody feel a little bit less alone, then I want to be a part of that. I know how to be a part of that.
[referring to his singing]
David Cliff: Yeah, but what if I’m not good enough?
David Cliff: What if I’m just some douchebag who thought he could be a singer, like everybody else, and then what? Then what am I supposed to do?
Maggie: Oh, my God.
David Cliff: What?
Maggie: You’re insecure. This is amazing.
David Cliff: I’m coming at you with some deep-seated anxiety right now, and…
Maggie: No, you’re just self-sabotaging, and I can work with that.
[as Maggie is picking Grace up]
Grace Davis: Wait. Is this your car?
Maggie: Why do people keep asking me that? Yeah.
Grace Davis: You need to ask your boss for a raise.
[she starts laughing]
Grace Davis: That’s so funny. Do you get it? Because I’m your boss. Hey. Do you get it?
Grace Davis: Is the food coming, sir?
Taco Truck Guy: Ma’am, we’ve been over this. We are not a drive-through.
Grace Davis: Okay. Well, it should be. It could be.
Fan: Oh, my God. Is that Grace Davis?
Grace Davis: Hi.
[holds up her hand to cover Grace’s face]
Maggie: Would you get married?
Grace Davis: Oh, my God. Not you too. I know that everybody wonders, “Is Grace going to find a man?” I mean, “Who’s going to put a ring on it?” You know what? I’m happy with me. I am happy with me. Yep.
[referring to getting married]
Grace Davis: I almost did. Once.
Grace Davis: Yeah. But I was too young. We were in love, and the whole thing. It was before all this happened. Then it did. And I didn’t choose him. Obviously. I didn’t want it. I don’t want it. I chose those countertops in the bathroom. They were like, “You can have two sinks.” And I was like, “No. I want one big one.”
Maggie: It is a very big sink.
Grace Davis: Why are you all dressed up? Why did you have to steal from the needy, and take this three thousand dollar Saint Laurent jacket?
Maggie: How much?
Grace Davis: [gasps] Oh, wait. Were you with a boy?
Maggie: [chuckles] No.
Grace Davis: Yes, you were! You were on a date. Okay. Okay. Does he know who I am?
Maggie: Well, he lives on Earth. So, yeah.
Grace Davis: Listen to me, Margaret. I am a very big draw. Okay? So you make sure he’s with you for you, okay?
Ryan: Once the live album is out, we really want to make sure we think through your next moves.
Bennett: Yeah, what do you want to do next?
Grace Davis: Well, um, I’ve been thinking, and I think it’s time I record a new album.
Jack Robertson: Well, I mean, that’s one plan.
Jack Robertson: Um, we’ve talked about a few different things, and we really want to know what you want to do. I mean, where do you envision Grace Davis in the future?
Bennett: Yeah. Have you thought any more about the Vegas residency?
Jack Robertson: We talked about Vegas, remember?
Ryan: We think it’s a cool reliable way for you to showcase where you’re at.
Grace Davis: Could be fun.
Jack Robertson: [laughs] I mean, I might have fun. At least I can get a damn drink somewhere.
Spencer: Price of one.
Bennett: [jokingly] We’ll get you a damn drink.
Maggie: Grace, those pretentious sparkling water blowhards just spoke to you like they forgot that you basically built this entire label for them.
Grace Davis: Do you know what they were avoiding saying in there?
Grace Davis: In the history of music, only five women over forty have ever had a number one hit. And only one of them was black. One. Do you understand that? No. You do not understand that. And none of you guys in there understand what I have been through. So, I don’t know. We could just pretend. We could pretend that we live in some sort of magical world where, I don’t know, let’s see, age and race are not a thing. And then do you know what the problem is? I, not the label, not Jack, not you, have to come up with s**t that people give a s**t about, and I don’t know how to do that anymore! I don’t know if I know how to do that.
Grace Davis: I am not here for you. You are here for me. I am not your stepping-stone. You’re not a producer, Margaret. I didn’t ask you to produce my song. And I’m not going to say thank you, either. You’re an encyclopedia. You memorize trivia. You handle my itinerary. You pick peanuts out of kung pao chicken. You’re not the ticket to people’s breakthrough. Okay? And you know what, those guys in there, they’re way better than you because they were setting me up for an easy win. And you, little lady, are setting me up for a fail.
[after playing David’s music for Dan]
Dan Deakins: Alright. I’m in.
Maggie: Shut up.
Dan Deakins: It’ll pi** off Grace, but she needs a kick in the a**. Sure you’re ready for this, working with musicians? People like me, Grace, this kid. Crazy little gods. Before you know it, you’ll be on tour when you’re supposed to be best man at your brother’s wedding. Or in the studio when your kid’s winning the nationals. Or buying another Rolls-Royce when you’ve already got three. No, four.
Dan Deakins: Then you realize, “Damn, I’m writing lyrics on a napkin in a toilet, and I’m supposed to be at the reception for my fourth wedding.” No, fifth wedding.
[referring to David]
Dan Deakins: And you think this kid can handle that?
Maggie: I do.
Dan Deakins: And you think that you can handle that?
Maggie: I do.
Dan Deakins: And do you want it more than blood?
Maggie: I do.
[after Maggie confesses she’s not a producer and just Grace’s assistant]
David Cliff: You know, you’re so arrogant. You don’t know s**t. You don’t know anything. You just walk around pretending and s**t. Like who does that?
Maggie: I’m sorry that I lied to you. It was wrong, but I, we made something really good, and it deserves a shot. I think you deserve a shot. And do you know what’s in there? That could change your whole life. It could change both of our lives.
David Cliff: I’m not your escape plan, Maggie.
Jack Robertson: Dumba** millennials.
Grace Davis: [to Maggie] This was your second chance. You couldn’t handle it. You want to be a producer? Producing is about trust, and commitment, and taking care of your artist. You couldn’t even do that as an assistant. Why would I want to work with you? Why would anyone want to work with you? We’re done.
[after Grace has fired Maggie]
Jack Robertson: If you need a reference for your next job, have them give me a call. I got a lot to say.
[referring to Maggie]
Grace Davis: I can’t believe I let her stay with me this long. She was always in my face. “Hi. I’m Maggie. I know everything about everything. Oh, I’m in the studio. I’m a producer. I can pull off bangs.” No, you can’t. No, you can’t, because it’s not 1970.
Gail: It hasn’t been 1970 for some years.
Gail: And honestly, Grace, I thought she was going to be the one who would stick it out. And I tried to help her.
Grace Davis: Did you talk to her?
Gail: I did talk to her.
Grace Davis: Okay.
Gail: And I tried to tell her that this was an enormous opportunity. And I saw myself in her. You know, before I became the strong independent woman that I am today.
[referring to Maggie]
Gail: I think she’s just obsessed with you. She never asked you for anything, which was weird.
Grace Davis: No, she actually did.
Gail: What? Did she ask you for those Louis Boutins? Because those are mine, Grace. It goes from Grace, to Getty Images, to Gail.
[after being fired, Maggie leaves a voice message for Grace]
Maggie: Hi, Grace. It’s Maggie. Uh, Margaret Sherwoode. Um, I’m sorry about the party. I had this whole plan that was meant to show you that I could be more than just an assistant, and then it totally fell apart. Uh, so. Mostly, though, I just really wanted to say thank you. Because I’ve always been in total awe of you, Grace. And to be able to witness the person that I admire the most, do the thing that she does best, was the greatest time of my whole life. Um, and I’m so grateful.
Grace Davis: I may, or may not have said some things that could have hurt someone’s feelings. And for that I forgive myself. Yeah.
Maggie: Was that an apology?
Grace Davis: Absolutely not. No. No, it wasn’t. I was pi**ed because you messed up, and you didn’t do your job. And what else was I supposed to do? But while you were gone, I missed you. I took having someone on my side for granted.
Grace Davis: I realized it’s because I trusted you, and I have never trusted an assistant like that before. Do not tell Gail. But you were very good at your job. And you worked harder than anyone else ever has. And you loved it. And you love my music. And I appreciate that.
Maggie: Well, thank you for coming all the way here to tell me that.
Grace Davis: Maggie, that’s not why I came here. I came here to tell you that the work you did on the live album was very good.
Grace Davis: Yes. I would have filled in the audience track a little bit more, and I think you overmixed in some places.
Grace Davis: But you made me sound like me. Me. I haven’t heard her in a long time. That’s the sign of a good producer.
Grace Davis: So it’s going to be tough, you know? Because it’s really bleak out there for middle-aged singers. And when I get there, I’ll confirm that.
Grace Davis: But for female producers? Mm. I’ve never worked with a female producer.
Grace Davis: Should we give it a go?
Grace Davis: Yeah?
Maggie: Yes. I am available for that.
Grace Davis: Okay.
[referring to David]
Grace Davis: I had him when I was so young. And I had a chance to change things for us, and I took it. I took it.
Maggie: Who else knows?
Grace Davis: Gail. Jack. He was there when I had him. Jack’s always there.
[referring to David being her son]
Maggie: Are you going to tell people?
Grace Davis: I wanted to. Many times. But he said he wasn’t ready. And after everything I put him through, I respect that. I wanted to help him with his music. But he was worried that people wouldn’t take him seriously if I was involved, which I understand.
Maggie: It must have been really, really hard for you. For you both. I mean…
Grace Davis: Mostly him. There’s a lot of things I wish I had done differently. We’re here now.
Maggie: He’s really good, Grace.
[referring to Grace singing]
Jack Robertson: Damn, the girl still give me goosebumps.
[last lines; Maggie and Grace are working Grace’s new music]
Maggie: Grace, that was so good.
Grace Davis: Thank you, Maggie.
Maggie: Let’s take it from the top.
[they look at each other and smile]
Richie Williams: Is that dope, or is that dope? Trick question. This is dope.
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