The actress opens up about her new film, I'll See You in My Dreams, and her family

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Credit: Patric Shaw

From her first mention of the hot-button phrase “conscious uncoupling,” to her lifestyle site, Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow has had her fair share of criticism over the years.

But no matter what, the actress and lifestyle guru always has one big champion on her side: her proud mom, Blythe Danner.

Defending her Oscar-winning daughter, Danner, 72, tells PEOPLE in the magazine’s new issue, “I just think maybe people are overwhelmed. They can’t understand how people could be so good at so many things.”

“Not only is Gwyneth one of the most brilliant actresses in the world – and I really am hoping she will do more of it when the kids get older – but she is a successful businesswoman and she is a good cook,” Danner continues. “I think all of that overwhelms some people. I’m really proud of her. She handles herself well.”

Paltrow, 42, created a media firestorm when she explained in March 2014 that she and her now ex-husband, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, 38, were “consciously uncoupling” – splitting amicably after 10 years of marriage while continuing to co-parent their children, Apple, 11, and Moses, 9.

Conscious uncoupling seems to be working well for Paltrow and Martin, says Danner. “They are so smart and good as parents. They work hard at it. I am really proud of them. The kids come first. They are terrific.”

Danner has fond words for her ex-son-in-law, too. “He’s a good kid,” she says. “He’s great. I’m very lucky with all of my in-laws.”

Like Carol, the call-it-as-she-sees it, retired widow Danner plays in her new film, I’ll See You in My Dreams, she says: “My daughter is also frisky. She likes to say what she wants to say. I think it’s great. That s one of the things I’m saying about getting older. I feel more liberated. I wasn’t that way when I was younger.

“I’m glad to see that Gwyneth is strong. She can take it. You have to be thick-skinned to be in our business.

For more on Blythe Danner, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday