Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Why Stop Now? [2012]

MPAA (UR) Roger Ebert (3 1/2 Stars)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing -
Roger Ebert's review -

Why Stop Now? (written and directed by Phil Dorling and Ron Nyswaner) is a well-crafted "indie" film about a young struggling classical musician named Eli (played by Jesse Eisenberg) who's had a really bad day.  Eli's mentor had gotten him a big break, a chance at an audition for a top of the line music conservatory in Boston.  But Eli comes to the audition late and with one of his hands (!) in a bandage.  His mentor asks: "What happened?"  "Well if you've had the day that I've had, you'd understand ..."  The rest of the movie follows.

Eli begins his explanation "Actually my day began the night before.  A rich jerk down the street was throwing a party and I, of course, wasn't invited.  And so I, of course, had to show-up anyway..."  Eli crashed the party, had gotten really drunk, and just as the host was going to throw him out, Eli spotted a piano.  He forced himself to it, sat himself down, played enough bars to impress everyone there, and then stopped and threw-up right next to it.  That of course got him now definitively thrown out of the place and probably more roughed up than he would have been if he had just left the party quietly ...

The next morning, clearly hung-over from the night before, he had to face the tasks of the new day.  He had, of course, the audition sometime in the late morning/early afternoon.  But before that, he had to get his mother Penny (played by Melissa Leo) finally to rehab.  Of course, she didn't particularly want to go, saying, of course "My problem isn't _that bad_, etc."  But even before that, he had to take his little sister Nicole "Coli" (played by Emma Rayne Lyle) to school.  By now you could imagine that Coli would have come to have some "issues" of her own.  And, of course she does: she's made a hand puppet out of a sock (actually put a face on it and all that...) and through this hand puppet friend who she calls "Diego" (I believe), she's been able to vent a lot of anger at the world.  Basically she's been (err.  "Diego's been"...) telling teachers and other school kids to "go to hell" and so forth.  So when Eli and ma (going to rehab ...) come to drop Coli at school, there's her teacher waiting for them, waiting to talk to her ma' (and Eli if ma's really going to go to rehab...) to tell her/them that, well, Coli's "got problems" that need to be dealt with ... Eli tells teacher that well "we know..." but that he has to take ma' to rehab first ... (Folks, if you've ever thought that your life's been a mess ...)

So Coli's been dropped off at school and now Eli and ma' are standing in front the rehab center.  Will ma' actually go in?  Well after some further persuading, she does ... and about 20 minutes later she's steps out again.  WHY????? Well, she hasn't actually used drugs in 4-5 days and so her urine tested clean!  The attending official told her that without dirty urine (and no insurance on her part) he can't let her in.  But he (seriously ... ;-) suggested to her that she "go get some drugs, get high, and come back then with the needed ditry urine" and THEN he could admit her...

It is here where the movie really begins.  Along the course of the rest of the film, we get to meet Ma's drug connections, two brothers nicknamed Sprinkles (played by Tracy Morgan) and Black (played by Isiah Whitlock, Jr) as well as their supplier Eduardo (played by Paul Calderon).  Very much ensues ...

Why Stop Now? proves to be a very funny, well crafted comedy about someone's epicly "bad day."  I also think that Jesse Eisenberg proves here that he may be the true successor to Woody Allen's nerdy on-stage persona.  And Melissa Leo certainly proves again (as she did in The Fighter [2010]) that she can really play some difficult/challenging moms.  Again, if you've ever thought you had it rough ... ;-)


Like many independent films, while "in theaters in major markets," this film is available through the IFC Video On Demand service (type in your zipcode and cable provider to see if this service as available to you) as well as for download (for $6.99) via the Sundance Now service.  Eventually, these films become available for rent in the U.S. via NetFlix or

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