Release Date: March 18, 2011
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Alex
Shaffer, Bobby Cannavale,
Jeffrey Tambor, Burt Young,
Melanie Lynskey, Margo
Martindale, David Thompson,
Nina Arianda, Marcia
Haufrecht, Sharon Wilkins,
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 106 minutes
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures/News
Director: Tom McCarthy
Executive Producer: Lori Keith Douglas, Tom Heller
Producer: Tom McCarthy, Mary Jane
Skalski, Michael London, Lisa
Writer: Tom McCarthy
Address Comments To:Rupert Murdoch, Chairman/CEO, News Corp.
Chase Carey, President/COO, News Corp.
Stephen Gilula, President/COO
Nancy Utley, President/COO
Fox Searchlight Pictures
20th Century Fox Film Corp.
10201 West Pico Blvd., Bldg. 38; Los Angeles, CA 90035
Phone: (310) 369-1000; Fax: (310) 369-2359
The story focuses right away on Mike Flaherty, played by the talented Paul Giamatti. Mike is a struggling New Jersey attorney with a family and a hurting practice. Even the toilet in his little office keeps failing, so, rather than spend money on a plumber, Mike fixes it himself.
To make ends meet, Mike decides to become the guardian of a wealthy senile old man named Leo. This is so Mike can get the $1,500 the state pays Leo’s guardian.
However, instead of letting Leo stay in his own house like Mike promised the judge and Leo himself, Mike sticks Leo in a nearby nursing home. He even lies to Leo, telling him the judge ordered Leo to be put into the home.
Then, Leo’s long-lost teenage grandson, Kyle, shows up. Kyle has never met his own grandfather. Also, he has just run away from his drug-addicted mother, now in rehab in Ohio. The mother had had left no trace for anyone of what happened to her when she and Leo became estranged years ago. Mike, of course, lies to Kyle too about Leo’s situation and the money he’s making on the side (he has already neglected to tell his loving but feisty wife, Jackie, about it).
Feeling guilty, however, Mike lets Kyle stay in the basement at his family’s house. They try to contact Kyle’s mom, but she doesn’t return their phone calls. Mike and his family learn that Kyle is a quirky, but very nice, young man, so Mike shuttles Kyle back and forth to visit his grandfather and be with Mike as he and another attorney, “Vig,” coach a local high school wrestling team.
[SPOILER ALERT] It turns out that Kyle is actually a star wrestler who stopped wrestling because of his own problems and that of his mother’s. Mike and Mike’s old wrestling buddy, Terry, are excited to learn this. So, Terry joins Mike and Vig as coach, while Kyle clearly has fun getting back into a high school wrestling program.
Just as it looks like Mike will get a double payday or benefit, Kyle’s mother suddenly shows up, threatening to derail everything. Will Mike finally do the right thing? Can Kyle get over his hatred for his irresponsible mother? Will Mike’s wife (not to mention Kyle) forgive him when she learns the truth about her husband’s bad decisions?
WIN WIN is a very funny, winsome slice-of-life comedy. Despite the protagonist’s unethical shenanigans, the movie creates some sympathy for Mike, mostly because Mike clearly cares about his own family. Also, he has a great loving, ethical wife, played wonderfully by Amy Ryan. The rest of the cast, including Giamatti, do a superb job, as does Writer/Director Tom McCarthy (THE VISITOR and THE STATION AGENT). Eventually, the characters doing bad do the right thing, but not before the comedy and the drama involves some tense and uncomfortable, but tender, warm and funny, moments dealing with family issues and issues of honesty, integrity, compassion, and love.
Although WIN WIN has a morally uplifting, very touching ending, it has way too much strong foul language, including some strong profanities. In fact, it has enough strong foul language to earn an R rating. This is the biggest downside to the movie, which could have appealed to a much bigger audience if it had cleaned things up to get a PG-13, or even a PG, rating.
All in all, therefore, despite the positive content, including a good but all too brief church scene and no sex scenes, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for WIN WIN. We hate to be a bit corny and obvious, but this movie is clearly a “Lose Win” situation.
WIN WIN is a very funny, winsome, heartwarming slice-of-life comedy. The movie features superb acting and great writing and directing. Despite a heart-tugging, uplifting ending, however, the movie has way too much foul language, including some strong profanities. In fact, it has enough strong foul language to earn an R rating. This is the biggest downside to the movie. All in all, therefore, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for WIN WIN.