2 out of 5 stars
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Opens locally Friday, April 1st (check local showtimes)
Run Time: 1 hour, 48 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Jeffrey Tambor, Burt Young
Written & Directed by Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent, The Visitor)
A “Win Win” situation involves receiving a positive outcome regardless of what choice you make. The movie “Win Win” however, is nothing but a “Lose Lose” for the audience, as we are left with no choices but to watch this movie flop all over the place, dancing clumsily and awkwardly between drama and comedy and never quite delivering in either area.
The Plot. The movie begins strong solely on the powerful actors at the film’s center. Paul Giamatti is married to Amy Ryan, who are both perfectly cast in roles that require both heavy dramatic scenes as well as light, quirky comedy. Giamatti plays a lowly lawyer struggling mightily to get by. When he represents a wealthy, but deteriorating elderly client in need of a legal guardian (Burt Young, Rocky’s Uncle Paulie), he sees an opportunity to squeeze the old-timer and gain some extra income. What he doesn’t anticipate is that the old man’s grandson Kyle has just shown up literally on the doorstep, and the family is forced to take him in.
Giamatti is also a high school wrestling coach, with an awful team to boot. He finds out that the rebellious Kyle is also a state-champion-caliber wrestler, and he bonds with the kid as the two wrestle (pun intended) to gain control over their lives.
Down for the Count. The film has a decent set-up but has absolutely no thread tying it all together. At times it is an odd-angled comedy, at other times heavy melo-drama. The entire middle of the film becomes a flat-out high school wrestling movie. I can’t help but fault the director, Tom McCarthy, for not being able to pull together a common tone…it’s as if nobody could decide what they wanted the film to be.
Losers Never Win. As you watch, you slowly realize that you don’t have any connection with any of the characters, which as we all know is a recipe for disaster. Giamatti and Ryan do their best, but are bogged down by the rough and uneven script. There are heavy-handed messages towards the film’s end, about taking control of yourself and your life. If only someone would have thought to reign in control of the film itself.
“Win Win” is harmless enough, but goes nowhere after the initial premise fails to find it’s footing. You won’t care too much about the events in the film, as it’s not quite a drama, and you surely won’t find yourself laughing, as it’s not quite a comedy. With no investment to be had, why even bother?
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