Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Win Win

MPAA (R) CNS/USCCB () Roger Ebert (3 Stars) Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb Listing -
CNS/USCCB Review -
Roger Ebert’s Review -

Win Win (screenplay written and directed by Thomas McCarthy, story by him and Joe Tiboni) is a family drama set in a nondescript town in New Jersey. Mike Flaherty (played by Paul Giamatti) a 40-something lawyer sharing a practice with Stephen Vigman (played by Jeffrey Tambor) is worried about his bills. With the economic downturn, cases have dried up and he is struggling. The addition of new baby daughter added further pressure. What to do?

Well Mike had an older court appointed client, Leo Poplar (played by Burt Young). who did have some money but no apparent family and was exhibiting worsening signs of dementia. The State wanted to make Leo a Ward of the State and place him in a senior home. Mike beats back this attempt by volunteering himself to be Leo caretaker (for a nice $1500/mo stipend). Surprised that Mike would want to do that, the State nevertheless agrees. Mike then puts Leo in the Senior center _anyway_ promising to be somehow more personable than the State would have been (He’d visit him and take him out of the home on a more regular basis, etc, etc) and pockets the $1500. A "Win/Win," Right? Sort of?

Things start to go wrong almost immediately. Kyle (played by Alex Schaffer), Leo’s grandson shows up at Leo’s door step. Kyle is the son of Leo’s troubled and estranged daughter Cindy (played by Melanie Lynskey). Having been forced to stay with another one of Cindy’s boyfriends while she was in rehab again, Kyle had decided to split and look for his grandfather Leo who he had never met. But Leo is now in a Senior home and Mike is nominally cutting the lawn taking care of his house. Kyle, who was 16-17 year old junior in high school, can’t stay in Leo’s home alone. What to do? Mike decides to try to take Kyle in to his home over the initial objections of his wife Jackie (played by Amy Ryan).

Kyle proves to be a remarkably young talented wrester and Mike and his lawyer partner Stephen serve as wrestling coaches at the local high school. Again, what a break! After a little bit of a dust-up, it seems like it's going to be another "win/win."

Well Cindy, Kyle's mom, gets out of rehab, and comes out to New Jersey looking for both her son and her father’s money. She hires another lawyer, Eleanor (played by Margo Martindale) and offers to take care of her dad (after more than 10 years of not even speaking to him). Mike knows that she’s only out for Leo’s money, but _he’s_ actually doing the exact same thing, using Leo for his money and he’s supposed to have been his lawyer. What now?

The rest of the movie is about figuring out an answer to that question. It’s sticky, it’s complicated and definitely _not_ a simple "win/win." But then that’s life ... What a great movie!

Another character who I haven't mentioned up until this time, but is present throughout the whole story is Bobby Cannavale (played by Terry Delfino) who's  Mike’s best friend. Bobby doesn’t really do all that much thoughout the story, except that he’s _always there_ in both the good times and in the not so good. By the end, however, one has to say, what a good friend!

Win Win came out a number of weeks ago and will probably disappear soon to cable and video. But it’s actually a very good family oriented movie (the R-rating is _simply_ for _mild occasional profanity_) about figuring out what really ought to matter.

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