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Film Review: Win Win

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Win Win

Welcome to the New Year and a new edition of Friday flicks. Yes, I realize I have not really been blogging lately, nor have I really done a Friday flicks feature. But hopefully that will change. I want to blame the hiatus on the fact we moved (from just outside Baltimore, to the Hampden area of Baltimore), but that would only be a partial truth. I think with the craziness of the holidays I was overwhelmed with the sheer amount of cooking/baking I was doing. I’ve slowly eased back into the cooking, so here’s hoping for some new delicious recipes.

I happened on the movie Win Win by not changing the channel. I had seen stuff about it, but hadn’t really sought it out. FYI, HBO Comedy channel has some pretty awesome movies. If you are looking for a movie where Paul Giamatti is not playing a poor schlub of a man, then this is not for you. This role is what he does best. He plays a guy Mike who is married with two young kids. He’s a lawyer in his own practice, though shares the space with a CPA, and coaches wrestling at the local high school. Mike’s business is not doing well. His team is not doing well. His life is not doing well. It’s so bad that he started having panic attacks. So, the doctor told him to go running. He then has a panic attack while running (beside the panic attack actually happening, that was a HILARIOUS scene). Mike’s not making ends meet and he hasn’t told his wife about it. Well, he gets a client that is in early stages of dementia and currently lives at home by himself. As he is not competent to be by himself, the state wants to take over his care. Mike convinces the judge that he will fulfill the old man’s wishes and allow him to stay at his house. This would give Mike $1,500 a month for being the old guy’s guardian. The judge grants guardianship to Mike, who instead of figuring out a way to care from him at home puts the guy in a home. And he tells the old man that the judge told him he had to stay there. Yeah, not really a good guy…


Well, as you would have it, some kid shows up on the old guy’s steps. It turns out to be the old guy’s grand-son. The kid, Kyle, tells Mike that his mom sent him there. Well, now Mike has a kid he’s taking care of and for a while as the mom is in rehab for a few weeks. We don’t really learn much about Kyle’s home life at all. We do learn that he hates his mom. A LOT. Like more than anyone else in the world. But he is super sweet with Mike’s family and with his grandfather as well. At practice one day Kyle asks to wrestle. He does, and he’s GOOD. Apparently he had gone to the state championships back in Ohio. He was so good that Mike’s friend ends up joining the coaching staff (mostly to have a reason to do anything like play video games…). Mike enrolls Kyle in the high school and gets him to wrestle. The team starts to win and things are looking up for Mike. Then everything of course goes to shit. Kyle’s mom shows up and wants to take the grandfather, but the mom mostly just wants the money. People find out about Mike’s secret, and Kyle gets kicked out of wrestling. I won’t give away the ending, but it’s good.  Cracks me up…

Mostly, I just want to say that the acting was so well done in this movie. Paul Giamatti is great. He does that whole self-deprecation thing so well. Jeffrey Tambor plays the CPA/assistant coach. I wish he had been used more. I loved him in Arrested Development (can’t wait for that to come back!!!) and he is such a comedic genius I wish he’d been allowed more range. The wife is played by Amy Ryan. If you’ve ever seen The Wire or Gone Baby Gone, you’ve seen the nuances of her work. She draws you in to her story. While again I wish she’d been funnier, she was used so well in the poignant parts with Kyle. Lastly, the kid Kyle was played by Alex Shaffer. This was his first major role. It was pretty much his first role ever. CRAZY. He did an amazing job.

Again, the movie isn’t slap your knee funny, mostly it’s pretty awkward and really close to real life. But it really has its moments.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.


About yogi126

I am a Jewish woman living in Baltimore. My husband and I enjoy movies a LOT. So, I thought I'd share our knowledge of movies, food, and life in general.

3 responses »

  1. rasputinaesque

    I really enjoy Paul Giamatti’s work but I haven’t seen this film. My favorite performance of his was his depiction of Harvey Pekar in “American Splendor.” Please forgive the assumption, but since you’re a cinephile living in Baltimore I assume you’re familiar with the films of John Waters. What do you think of his work?

    • I personally love John Waters. I don’t know if I should admit this, but his movie “Cereal Mom” may be my favorite. Living in Baltimore, I recognize many of the places, plus it’s just hilarious!

  2. Pingback: My NEW garden | A Jew Broad Cooks

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