Sunday, September 18, 2011


Win Win

Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan


March 18, 2011

Tom McCarthy

Fox Searchlight Pictures

1 hour 46 minutes



Charlie Sheen must have gotten his catchphrase from the title of this movie, because that's exactly what 'Win Win' does.  'Win Win' is just as funny and charming as much as it's poignant and surprising.  This film tells the story of Mike Flaherty, a New Jersey lawyer who has a position as a wrestling coach in New Providence High School.  After taking up the job of taking care of an old man with dementia, he soon gets an unexpected visit from the 16 year old grandson of the old man.  As it turns out, this kid is a pro at wrestling and may be Mike's wrestling team's only hope.  So Mike takes the kid under his wing and he becomes a major influence on both the teammates and the coaches.  This is a film that will lift your spirits up all the way to the top and keep them up even when the film gets into its dramatic moods towards the middle. 

I've only seen one other Paul Giamatti film in my life, so I don't know how good of an actor he really is from his other work.  I can tell you that Giamatti is excellent in this movie, playing a struggling father with some dark secrets of his own.  Giamatti and the young kid in the movie, Alex Shaffer have such an irresistible chemistry together, that it's almost hard not to enjoy seeing these two men have so little in common, yet can have a sweet father/son like chemistry together.  My two favorite characters in this movie are Bobby Cannavale and Melanie Lynskey as Terry and Cindy respectively.  Cannavale has played the narcissistic ass supporting characters in 'Paul Blart: Mall Cop' and 'The Other Guys' recently, so it comes as no surprise that he plays an even better version of that character in this movie.  He may have the biggest potty mouth that the film has to offer, my my gosh is he damn funny!  Lynskey you'd know for playing the psycho neighbor of Charlie Sheen in 'Two and a Half Men,' so you know that she can be a very funny person.  In this movie, despite being a comedy, is the more dramatic, disturbing character, playing the druggie mother of Kyle, the young kid in the movie.  You would never expect such a deep character from Lynskey, which is all the more reason why she is one of my two favorite characters in the film.

I'm glad I didn't wait 28 days to see this at Redbox, because 'Win Win' is worth any price you pay to see it.  The performances are great, the story is light and moody, and a lot is put in perfectly into the 106 minutes this film has to spend.  Director Thomas McCarthy knows how to make a deep character study film with the oddest sports and some very funny dialogue.  He is an expert in knowing how to control his cast members and get them into the best positions the script can give them.  The movie is only "R" for language, so this should be fine for young adolescent teens if they can handle both kids and adults dropping f-bombs a lot.  So to conclude this review, 'Win Win' is a feel good sports drama with some good comedy put into it.  If you're ever in a bad movie, do yourself a favor and look for this movie somewhere and just watch it.  Sure it's just shy of two hours, but it's well time spent, especially considering the crap we see in theaters today.  I know why this movie didn't find such a big audience like 'Midnight in Paris' did back in the summer, but now it's September, the season of DVD rentals!  'Win Win' isn't just the feel good film currently out on DVD.  Believe it or not, it is undoubtedly one of the best comedies/dramas you'll see this year.  Charlie Sheen may agree with me, but we won't know because of the only word he likes to say: "Winning!"  If he actually is saying this about the movie, then he for once is absolutely right.

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