In the Game of Life, You Can't Lose Them All. WIN/WIN
Feb 12, 2012 (Updated Feb 12, 2012)
Review by Mark Vaughan
Rated a Very Helpful Review
User Rating: Excellent
Bang For The Buck
Pros:Giamatti, Shaffer, Ryan, Tambor, Cannavale. The script.
Cons:Should be clearer about what Mike opened himself up for.
The Bottom Line: Like the title says, sometimes, the best way to play life is Win/Win.
Win/Win (2011) Directed by Thomas McCarthy
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Mike Flaherty: I just-I just don't think beating the crap out of everybody is the best solution, that's all.
Jackie Flaherty: It feels like it.
Mike Flaherty (Paul Giamatti) is a small town lawyer with problems. His law practice isn't raking in the cash, the firm's heater is making dangerous noises, and the toilet clogs. He coaches the wrestling team, but they have never won a match. At home, there is a dead tree in the yard that needs to come down before it falls on the house, but Mike can’t even pay his health insurance premium this month. He has a wife and two daughters he adores. So that is why when his client Leo Poplar (Burt Young) is declared incompetent Mike agrees to become his guardian, instead of the state of New Jersey. You see, they can’t find his estranged daughter, Leo wants to continue living at home, and Mike says he can make that happen. Now, here is where the problem kicks in; Mike goes ahead and puts Leo in the home. It is a very nice one, indeed, but now the $1000+ a month as conservator goes to Mike.
Here is where things go wrong; Mike goes by Leo’s house, and finds a kid sitting on the porch. This is Kyle (Alex Shaffer), Leo’s grandson, who has come to live with him. Suddenly, Mike can see his entire life unraveling. But he takes Kyle home with him, because that has things unraveling slower, at least.
Kyle is a good kid, if a little weird. He is very laid back, quiet, polite without being mannered. Mike’s wife, Jackie, (Amy Ryan) though initially reluctant to have him around, warms to him. He is also a wrestling prodigy. Suddenly, two areas of Mike’s life are under control again. What could go wrong?
The mother (Melanie Lynskey) gets out of rehab and comes to reclaim her family.
The story revolves around Mike, and his internal struggle with what he has done, how to keep it from getting out, but also, his involuntary attachment to Leo and Kyle, his two new wards. Mike’s life is fleshed out by his two assistant coaches, nebishy partner Stephen (Jeffrey Tambor) and best friend in crisis Terry (Bobby Cannavale). His guilt is flushed out by Cindy’s lawyer (the delightful Margo Martindale). Giamatti’s hangdog expression and ability to be liked help carry the tale, keeping us from hating him for his fall from grace, until his redemption. Giamatti can force you to empathize with him.
A word on Alex Shaffer; the kid was actually New Jersey State Wrestling Champ. I think he can act as well, though one role is not much to go on. Whatever the case, he nailed this role, and made the movie.
It's a sweet tale, a family drama, a cautionary tale, and a fairly good sports movie. It tries to be all things to all people, and it comes up Win/Win.
Like Kyle, Lean-N-Mean.
Movie Mood: Feel-good Movie
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