Rating: 4 stars out of 5
The Buzz: Paul Giamatti and Amy Ryan from The Office play a husband-and-wife couple in this American indie comedy by acclaimed director Tom McCarthy.
The Stars: Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Bobby Cannavale, Burt Young
The Story: Mike Flaherty (Giamatti), a struggling lawyer in New Jersey, takes over the care of dementia-suffering Leo (Burt Young) to help pays the bills, only to wind up taking care of Kyle (Alex Shaffer), Leo’s grandson that he never knew he had.
inSing says: This Sundance comedy, directed by Tom McCarthy, who also made The Station Agent and The Visitor, touches the right chords with great performances from the cast. It’s hampered by some plot struggles at the end, but does push through with some honest laughs.
Giamatti steps away from the grouchy old guy roles to take on the role of an almost-defeated lawyer who’s also a school wrestling coach and father of two. Playing his wife is grown-up Jersey Girl Amy Ryan, who’s tough and tender, while Mike’s best friend Terry (Cannavale) is also bitingly funny and a contrast to the struggling Mike.
It’s a little coincidental that the teenage Kyle is the perfect antidote for Mike to start finding his mojo again—a prodigy in the sport that Mike is coaching. Once you’ve swallowed that too-big coincidence, it’s hard not to warm up to this well-concocted little comedy-drama about people struggling to get by.
The laughs here don’t plunge into easy vulgarities or the off-key, but emanates from the characters, which makes a refreshing change from the crass humour that’s been flooding our screens.
Mike is an utterly convincing loser who has to face some difficult truths about himself, and though the laughs abandon the film at the end, there’s enough bravado and uneasy decisions to make this comedy-drama stand at the top of the pile.