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"Win Win": Paul Giamatti Dully Wrestles with Middle Age 

Wednesday, Mar 23 2011

Paul Giamatti continues contemporary cinema's longest pre-midlife crisis in Win Win as Mike, yet another schlubby fortysomething flummoxed by mundane personal problems. Mike is the coach of the county's worst high school wrestling team, and his failing small-town law practice has accrued a mountain of debt, which he's too chickenshit to reveal to his no-nonsense, improbably hot wife (Amy Ryan). When he spots an opportunity to make some extra cash by taking care of elderly, senile client Leo (Burt Young), he grabs it. This works out great until Leo's burnout grandson, Kyle (Alex Shaffer), runs away from his deadbeat mom and shows up looking for a place to crash. Mike takes Kyle in — only to discover that this presumed bad seed is actually a wrestling phenom. And so a limp but at least vaguely topical recession comedy turns into a faint Xerox of standard Sundance pap, in which a weirdo outsider gives a struggling family renewed reason to live through a series of contrived conflicts — none of them so serious that they can't be fixed with a downbeat confessional concluding with a well-timed "I love you." A "quirky" dramedy in the Juno/Little Miss Sunshine mode, but lacking the latter's vibrant ensemble and the former's snappy patter, Win Win is indie with the edges sanded down completely.

About The Author

Karina Longworth


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