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Win Win: A Winning Combination

Director: Thomas McCarthy
Screenplay: Thomas McCarthy
Release Date: March 18, buy more about 2011
Actors: Paul Giamatti, malady Alex Shaffer, Amy Ryan, Melanie Lynskey, Bobby Canavale, Jeffrey Tambor

As opposed to the earlier Fox Searchlight comedy “Cedar Rapids”, “Win Win” is a breath of fresh air. Starring Paul Giamatti, and newcomer Alex Shaffer, “Win Win” is a story about struggling attorney Mike Flaherty, who is trying to take care of his family who also coaches the high school wrestling team. Due to his inner struggle and stress as a result of his lack of clients and needing more financial help, he ends up appointing himself as his client Leo Poplar’s guardian, with less than moral decisions. Mike ends up running into Leo’s grandson, Kyle, who has left his mom and wants to get to know his grandfather. With bleached blond hair, a quiet straight faced demeanor, and a surprising interest in the people around him, Mike and the rest of his family quickly grow fond of Kyle, after allowing him to stay in their home. Complications arise when Kyle’s mom (Melanie Lynskey, “Two and a Half Men”) comes around looking for Kyle and her father.

I was really impressed by this little film by Fox Searchlight. The humor was more along the lines of one of my favorites “Little Miss Sunshine” than the latest over the top comedy found in “Cedar Rapids”. I tend to enjoy more family oriented films – the three dimensional ones – and “Win Win” fired on all cylinders. The strength of the movie relied on the acting, the script, and the flow of the story, to be successful. And when these three elements are the best parts of a film, it’s hard to go wrong. The actors who were the supporting roles to Paul Giamatti (Bobby Canavale as Terry Delfino and Jeffrey Tambor as Stephen Vigman) were quirky and layered in development that it lent well to the comedy and the overall feel of the film. Never once did I feel like it was over-the-top. In fact, most of the humor is very subtle and dry, which is my favorite kind of comedy.

Each scene, including those that included wrestling were just the right amount. Sometimes, movies that involve sports get so involved with sporting scenes that it ends up leaving the character development on the floor. This is not the case here. One could get a sense of growth from everyone involved with the wrestling team without so much as a few words or scenes to show how everyone had become even more excited by the success of the wrestling team and the addition of Kyle to the group. I thoroughly enjoyed this film. The family dynamic of the daughter, his wife Jackie (played by Amy Ryan), Kyle and Paul Giamatti’s Mike feel like a true and loving family, each with their own faults. It’s hard to put into the exact words as to why I loved this film, just that it works on so many levels and is a joy to watch. I felt like I was peeking into this family’s life and all the idiosyncrasies of each character. Because of this quiet humor, “Win Win” may not work for everyone. The movie is fairly formulaic. Despite the “indie” comedic feel to the film, we ultimately know what the ending will be. There were a few moments that did make me wonder why Terry didn’t lend Mike some money, given how well off he seems to be. Granted, you don’t want to be lending money to a friend forever, but the differences in salaries are pretty obvious given Terry’s nice bachelor pad. In general though, there are no real lessons to be learned except for the obvious – don’t lie.

I would definitely recommend seeing this little gem in theatre. It’s no “Little Miss Sunshine” in the realm of quirky family comedies, but it will definitely be one that will be enjoyed by most people looking for a comedy that offers an interesting story with some depth.

Definitely see! 4 Wrestlers / 5 Wrestlers

If you enjoyed this movie, you might also like:
Little Miss Sunshine, Dan in Real Life, City Island

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