Disheartened attorney Mike Flaherty (Giamatti), who moonlights as a high school wrestling coach, stumbles across a star athlete through some questionable business dealings while trying to support his family. Just as it looks like he will get a double payday, the boys mother shows up fresh from rehab and flat broke, threatening to derail everything.
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Giamatti knows how to play characters in conflict not only with the world but with themselves.
Everything about McCarthy's film feels easygoing and economical. His scripting is sharp and laugh-out-loud funny, with relationships and family dynamics establilshed quickly in an unfussy fashion.
The core of this film involves a teenager and how he copes with the world around him. There are no simple answers here but a refreshing look at a young man with an abusive and manipulative parent who runs away to a grandfather he's never met. A lawyer takes over his guardianship in an informally way and things evolve in strange and wonderful ways. It turns out that the lawyer coaches wrestling on the side and that his young ward is a champion wrestler! No, this isn't a sports film - not at all - nor is it an "angry young man" sterotype. The young man is in the simple sentence time of life and we don't hear as much as we feel about him. What is amazing in this mixture is the humor when we least expect it. There are scenes or just snips of dialog that are screamingly funny. The literalists might question if these things would actually happen in real life.Probably not, but who's counting?Curtis Stotlar
I enjoy Royal Tenenbaums, Juno, and Little Miss Sunshine becausethey're about eccentric, witty people whose foibles are made less thantragic, their dialogue hypnotizes, and their personas seduce. Thencomes Win Win, not as ingenious or innovative as those films but awinner in its own right because it embellishes little while it staysreal and lovingly humane.A little like my family and other interesting neighbors, Win Win haslove to spare. Mike (Paul Giamatti) has a failing law practice,moonlights as a high school wrestling coach, and now becomes custodianof elderly Leo Poplar (Burt Young) because Mike needs the $1500 amonth. Soon complication arrives with bleached blond Kyle (AlexSchaffer), Leo's grandson, who wants to live with Leo.Mike is thus faced with more complications than he bargained for in thecaretaker role, yet a bit of light shines through as he deals with thetaciturn Kyle, who happens to be an excellent wrestler. Mike'srelationship with his wife, Jackie (Amy Ryan), is rich with respectbetween both and patience on her part as she helps Mike through hisethical challenge and his guidance of Kyle.Nothing comes easy in this dramedy, as it doesn't for most of us, butthe beauty of this film is that it slowly works out all the kinks oflife in a slowly distributed narrative with triumphs and setbacks thatseem to come naturally. Because the central characters are loving andlargely benign, the film has an easy, unforced quality.Terry (Bobby Cannavale) is especially likable as Mike's old wrestlingbuddy, recently split from his wife, and full of energy to channel asassistant coach helping with their new wrestling star. Cannavale bringsan easy charm to the film; he's an enjoyable foil for the schlubby,depressive Giammatti.Although a few swear words, mostly "f bombs," are dotted in thedialogue, it is essentially a family where the characters live to love.
This film is a moving, hilarious real portrayal of addiction, smalltown life, adolescence, adult friendships, the practice of law andAmerican family values. I was moved to tears and uproarious laughterseveral times. Giamatti is an excellent actor but everything in thisfilm rose to his level. The premise, the script, the cinematography,staging, direction even costumes, everything was A-1 and moved me. Icannot believe this film did not get more media attention and/orawards. I will be watching for anything written by Thomas McCarthy.This film portrays events which occur in America all of the time but donot make the media. The realities of a solo law practice and thepressures of raising a family in modern America are realistically shownwith virtually no exaggeration. The tension between trying to do theright thing and meeting obligations of basic needs for one's family waspalpable and expressed in the plot and script with such realism that Ifelt it in my gut. Everyone should see this film.
A comedy that's ultimately more touching than funny and a joy from beginning to end.
Win Win is a realistic portrayel of the difficult situations most of us get ourselves into, and an uplifting example of how to get out of them. It is funny, intelligent and heartwarming.
How often is my 'generosity' inspired by self-serving possibilities? Win Win is going to aggravate me for the rest of this year.
"Win Win" is a movie very much like "Easy A" - in that it can't make upits mind what kind of movie it is going to be. A serious movie aboutthe wonders and frustrations of being a father, mother, son, lawyer,wrestler or coach. and/or a movie that makes light of the manyobstacles and difficulties of ordinary life. I thought that AlexShaffer was outstanding as the teenager wrestler with immense talentand a troubled background. Paul Giamatti and Amy Ryan were terrific asa couple trying to deal with each new challenge in their marriage, andin their family. Each of these two actors becomes the character andthen builds upon their respective roles with powerful acting skills.This film acted like one that was badly edited and/or one that richlydeserved to go back into post-production so that it could be allowed amore well-developed ending.I thought that the role of Bobby was more of a distraction than a help.And yet there were moments of greatness in this film, veryheart-warming scenes in which good story, good writing and good actingall dove-tailed.I would truly like to watch the director's cut of this one.Alex Shaffer will be heard from again. He displays a fierce, intense,compassionate stage presence - many times without uttering a word. Hiscontribution alone would make the film worth watching or watching againas I will do.
McCarthy's decision to focus so keenly on these characters and not the potentially destructive forces surrounding them is the most important one for Win Win.
A deft, warm, serious and often very funny film.
This film is nothing more than a Made-for-TV type movie. I went to seeit because it played at the local art house; in fact, the movie seemsto be playing mainly in art houses across the country. Does thepresence of Paul Giamatti automatically result in a film's being shownin art houses? An art house release led me to expect something farsuperior to this.At any event, within ten or fifteen minutes, you will know the entireplot because you have seen this film hundreds of times previously.Disturbed teenage boy finds a new life with his foster parents (so tospeak) and his participation in sports to live happily ever after. Dadalso learns a lesson. There is barely an iota of plausibility in thisfilm. And the actors are all better qualified to handle the parts thanthe parts demand of them. A waste of talented actors. A waste of mytime and admission fee.
So many films have been lost in the shuffle this year, and have gone onto be unrecognized and already forgotten gems. The Art of Getting Byand Cedar Rapids just to name a few. Win Win was a sleeper hit, evenwith its great supporting cast, electrifying script, and some of themost surreal filmmaking for a drama in recent memory.Win Win almost reminds me of a possible HBO miniseries condensed into afilm. This seems like it could make a decent Television show for apremium cable network. It tells the story of lawyer and part-timewrestling coach named Mike (Giamatti) who is put in charge of caringfor an elderly man named Leo (Young). So he doesn't have to do muchwork at all, Mike puts Leo in a nursing home, but continues to collectthe $1,500 check every month for doing work he doesn't do.Mike's wrestling team is pitiful, until he starts caring for Leo'snephew named Kyle (Shaffer), a troubled teen who finds his niche whenhe begins wrestling for Mike's team. Kyle's homelife is found later tobe dreadful, and begins to shake up Mike's simple life as he tries tomanage him while care for his loving wife and two kids.The supporting cast of Win Win is pitch-perfect packed with characteractors like Bobby Cannavale and Jeffrey Tambor. Every character isplayed in a non-perfect manor, because the screenplay gives thembelievable flaws they can't work around. Instead of making them allgood human beings, the film gives them baggage that they must workwith. It shows the realism behind life, and not the sugarcoated filmlook we've been getting for quite sometime.There are flaws, sadly. For one, we never know why Mike steals thecheck every month because we don't know his financial situation. Ifthat could've been elaborated, it would've spawned a whole new breed ofconflicts for the film to work on rather than just make Mike lookcold-hearted and scummy. Not to mention, some things in the film aresymbolic, like the boiler room, that are never mentioned again and arejust the subject of creative screen writing. It doesn't really transferto film well, and it's never referred back to for future reference.Alex Schaffer reminds me of the real Lucas Cruinkshank, who is famousfor the "FRED" character on Youtube. He resembles Cruinkshank, and evenspeaks like him without the pitch effect on his voice. From what I'veheard, his hair was bleached for the film to make him look even moretroubled and a stand-out. Shaffer is perfect in the film, and probablythe strongest point. He wrestles better than he acts, but at least wehave a multi-talented child-actor who has developed skills early on.Being this is his first film, and he's already very talented for hisage, it can only get better - hopefully.Win Win is seldom, much like Director Thomas McCarthy's previous works.He has a sort of art with the camera, as well as with a pen and paper.He creates real characters, and none of a clichÃ© breed. There are nomajor twists and turns in the plot, but some caught me off guardsurprisingly. Win Win isn't perfect, but it's above-average, which I'lltake over clichÃ© and fair any day.Starring: Paul Giamatti, Alex Schaffer, Bobby Cannavale, JeffreyTambor, Burt Young, and Amy Ryan. Directed by: Thomas McCarthy.
As with The Station Agent and The Visitor, McCarthy creates a series of encounters for some astonishingly vivid characters.
Director Tom McCarthy said in an interview that he can't stand sportsmovies in which the actors can't play the sport, which is why he choseAlex Shaffer, a state champion wrestler, to play the part of Kyle. WinWin is definitely what you would call a character-driven movie, notthat it is lacking in story but without the performances of theprincipal actors it wouldn't have amounted to much of a film. Fineacting and some precision dialogue lift this movie well above theformulaic bullshit filling most of the theaters at the mallmega-cineplex.At first Kyle seems like a typical maladjusted, teenage misfit but wequickly see that there is a lot more to him than his rough exterior ofmonosyllabic speech, dyed hair and cigarettes. "He's probably ondrugs," one character remarks. Before we see that Kyle is some sort ofprodigy on the wrestling mat we see that he is basically a fine boy:polite, sweet, honest, etc.The movie is billed as a comedy and it is, but what drew me in was thatit's also incredibly sweet. Kyle is just such a great kid. He's is whatyou would want your kids to be like. He's who I would have wanted to bemore like in high school, a better version of myself, a better versionof most people. This is all apart from the fact that the kid happens tobe a bad-ass grappler. Although not really a sports movie, there areenough scenes of wrestling to probably qualify it for the genre, andthere are certainly a lot of laughs to file it under comedy, Win Win ismore sweet than anything. Add that to its other qualities and you havea pretty good little movie in my book.
There's no great narrative momentum to Win Win, and that's fine, because it's such an enjoyable little slice of life.
This review is from: Win Win [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray) My son was a wrestler in high school. I came to love and respect the sport. It is a real character builder and very exciting to watch."Win Win" is very well acted with Paul Giamatti playing the lead. He is a family man and a lawyer in financial trouble. He and his wife take in a boy who turns out to be a champion wrestler from Ohio. Paul coaches wrestling in his spare time.The story has many unexpected twists and turns. It is a satisfying, emotional experience.
It's a true win, win.
I loved some of the other reviews I read, so am not going to say muchabout what's already been covered. We thoroughly enjoyed this film. Wewere in a pretty full theater with adults of all ages (youthful, but noteens) and everyone seemed to enjoy it.It was a charmer about what could be real people in real circumstancesfeeling their way through the exigencies of normal lives without theneed for sex, violence, car chases, and other special effects to keepyour interest. I'm not saying that those type movies can't be funand/or good, but you don't need them for every film. We went into thetheater with no expectations and came out enchanted.
This review is from: Win Win (DVD) I bought this video for my son who is brand new to the wrestling program at his school. This was a great movie.