Thursday, February 6, 2014

Labor Day [2013]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (L)  ChicagoTribune (2 Stars) (1 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (C-)  Fr. Dennis (3 stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review (C. Lemire) review
AVClub (A.A. Dowd) review

Labor Day [2013] (screenplay and directed by Jason Reitman, based on the novel by Joyce Maynard [IMDb]) is a lazy / sappy, "don't really try this at home" romance for (my guess is) 30-something and above women.  Throughout the film, I kept thinking of The Bridges of Madison County [1995] another lazy / sappy romance directed at (again my guess ...) the same basic target audience.

That said, those who've read my blog would know that I don't necessarily find "sap" to be a bad thing (in a movie anyway ...).  But picking up a wounded, indeed, still bleeding, escaped convict (even if played in appropriately studly / sweat-covered muscle, yet also circumspect / gentleman-like fashion by Josh Brolin) on a lazy late summer afternoon somewhere in the New Hampshire countryside is almost certainly not a particularly wise thing to do. 

But then, this is a story (and stories do often have a "wouldn't it be nice..." quality to them).  So what the heck ...

Henry (voiced as an adult by Tobie Maguire, played as a 12-year old by Gattlin Griffith) recounts the story of how one lazy Labor Day weekend (just before school is supposed to start again), he and his worn-down by life, basket-case mom, Adele (played actually IMHO remarkably well by Kate Winslet) encountered said escaped convict named Frank (played again in appropriately studly yet circumspect fashion by Josh Brolin) in a super-market in their small New Hampshire hometown.

Now why was Henry's mom, Adele, a basket case?  Well she was left a number of years back by her somewhat a-holish husband / Henry's dad, Gerald (played by Clarke Gregg) for his (as they always are) younger, also divorced with her own son, 1980s-era big haired/big-glassed secretary who wasn't necessarily outright "evil" but didn't mind that (after her own home/marriage was smashed) was able to "win" (by smashing the home/marriage of Adele).  Ah, the "games" of the early decades of "no fault divorce ..." back here in the States.

Of course, the situation was actually a bit more complicated than that, as we learn later in the story.  Adele had already become worn-down by life and a basket-case BEFORE Gerald left her.  And Gerald (as well as his big-glassed/big-haired second wife) weren't completely a-holes either.

Nevertheless, we learn that Adele's life had really been quite awful until this encounter with the still bleeding, wounded, escaped convict, in the random supermarket somewhere in their small town in rural New Hampshire.  And so ... "what's she got to lose?"  (AGAIN, PLEASE FOLKS, DON'T DO THIS IN REAL LIFE...)

It turns out (in the story) that 'scaped-con Frank "wasn't that bad of a guy."  He too "had a story."  And for the sake of the film ... it's probably worth buying this (BUT AGAIN, PLEASE DON'T DO THIS AT HOME ... AT LEAST NOT UNTIL HE'S "DONE HIS TIME"...).

Anyway, much eminently circumspect (mostly off-screen) but "sweaty muscled" romance ensues...

Again, this is a LAZY, "WOULDN'T IT BE NICE" ROMANCE ...

Would it be a "good idea" to take home a still bleeding escaped convict with your 12 year old kid?  Most would PROBABLY say "no."  BUT THEN THIS IS A MOVIE. 

And what approaching middle-aged woman, worn down by life, feeling worthless and abandoned, would not want to hear a buff, sweaty t-shirted man, who hasn't been with a woman for a LONG, LONG TIME tell her: "I'd gladly serve another 20 years for 3 more days with you?" (Oh, Iah dew declare, let mah heart stop palpahtaytin dear Sir ... ;-)

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