Advertisement

Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Win Win

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language
Profanity:Very strong language
Nudity/Sex:Mild references
Alcohol/Drugs:Drinking, teen smoking, offscreen drug abuse
Violence/Scariness:Offscreen violence, tense confrontations
Diversity Issues:None
Movie Release Date:March 25, 2011
DVD Release Date:August 22, 2011
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language
Profanity: Very strong language
Nudity/Sex: Mild references
Alcohol/Drugs: Drinking, teen smoking, offscreen drug abuse
Violence/Scariness: Offscreen violence, tense confrontations
Diversity Issues: None
Movie Release Date: March 25, 2011
DVD Release Date: August 22, 2011

Writer-director Tom McCarthy gives us stories of the families we choose.  In “The Station Agent” and “The Visitor” the main characters were loners who found themselves unexpectedly drawn into caring for people who were very far outside their usual circles.  In this, McCarthy gives us a man who already has a loving, stable family and a best friend (“The Station Agent’s” Bobby Cannavale) and is under enormous stress trying to take care of everyone.  But he, too ends up meeting someone who at first seems a threat, then a burden, and then, somehow, family.

Paul Giamatti plays Mike Flaherty, a lawyer with a solo practice that is not bringing in the money he needs for repairs at the office and at home.  Most of his clients are indigent but Leo, a man in the early stages of dementia (“Rocky’s” Burt Young), has a comfortable bank account.  In a guardianship proceeding, Mike impulsively has himself appointed as guardian so that he can get the fee.  Then he puts Leo in an assisted living facility, contrary to his assurances at the hearing that he would keep Leo in his own home.

Advertisement

Mike did not know that Leo had any relatives.  But a teenage grandson who has never seen Leo turns up.  His name is Kyle (newcomer Alex Shaffer).  He has dyed blonde hair and he smokes.  His mother, Leo’s daughter, is in rehab and he has come to stay with Leo.  Mike and his wife Jackie (Amy Ryan) reluctantly take him in.  Mike coaches the high school wrestling team part-time.  Kyle turns out to be an exceptional wrestler.  He begins to work out with the team.

There is a wonderful decency, naturalism, and humanity to this story, thanks to a sensitive script and superb performances.  Ryan and Giamatti have the rhythms of a long-married couple, with a real sense of established teamwork, and appreciation.  Her “what is that?” expression and his “it’s okay and under control” gesture to her are eloquent in conveying their depth of trust and understanding.  The look on Mike’s face when he wishes Kyle luck in keeping his secrets reflects more than a decade of seeing her ability to get the truth out of anyone.  And yet Mike himself is keeping bigger and bigger secrets from Jackie.  He thought it would not hurt anyone.  But there really isn’t any such thing as win-win.  Someone always pays a price.

Advertisement

 

 

Parents should know that this film has some very strong language and tense family confrontations.  Characters drink, a character has a drug abuse problem, and a teenager smokes.

Questions for families: How does Kyle’s approach to wrestling apply to others in the movie?  What made Mike and Jackie change their minds about Kyle?  Do you agree with Mike’s choice at the end?

If you like this, try: “The Visitor” and “The Station Agent.”

 

 

 

Tom McCarthy

Previous Posts

Worst Accents in Movies
Thanks to Indiewire for including me in this great rundown of the all-time worst movie accents. Critics vented frustration and fury, many picking Quentin Tarantino and Dick van Dyke, but I went with two actors who played Robin ...

posted 2:13:18pm Aug. 28, 2015 | read full post »

Grandma
Lily Tomlin is cranky, feisty, tough, and utterly irresistible in this story of a grandmother who has to visit past decisions about her own life in order ...

posted 5:50:55pm Aug. 27, 2015 | read full post »

We Are Your Friends
Director Max Joseph brings some of the "Catfish" sensibility to "We Are Your Friends," with an intimate, documentary feel and a storyline ...

posted 5:35:22pm Aug. 27, 2015 | read full post »

Z for Zachariah
In 1959, a movie called The World, The Flesh And The Devil imagined a post-apocalyptic world with three surviving humans. In the words of the 1960's television series, "The Mod Squad," they could be described as "one black, one white, one ...

posted 5:31:48pm Aug. 27, 2015 | read full post »

Being Evel
Evel Knievel was an international celebrity in the 1960's-70's, known for three things: showmanship, stunts that succeeded, and stunts that failed. He was recognized for jumping over 19 cars in his motorcycle, for crash-landing after trying to ...

posted 5:13:51pm Aug. 27, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.