Movie Review: Win Win

A familiar story of nice family taking in troubled kid who’s good at something then ends up teaching the family more than they teach him gets…  …a familiar treatment as usual.

I suppose I went in with really high expectations based on reviews and word of mouth, kind of hoping for something new with a plot that basically anyone can guess from the trailer.  It ended up not really being anything special in that department.  You can assume what’s going to happen next before it actually does, then it ends up being pretty close to what you imagined.  But Win Win at least shines in other aspects that the typical Oscar bait that usually covers this plot  doesn’t.

It’s realistic.  It doesn’t have corny dialogue and cliche emotional moments hammered in there.  It was probably the most realistic movie about taking in a troubled teen I’ve ever seen, and that’s why it’s worth seeing.  It has its indie quirks and its funny moments, but it’s a feel good movie without those corny inspirational moments.  Maybe the best (and most hilarious) moment comes when Paul Giamatti is yelling “Do whatever the fuck it takes!” to one of his wrestlers during a match.  So, it’s not really typical “‘You’re changing that boy’s life’, ‘No, he’s changing mine…” kind of shit.  Anything that comes close to that kind of shit at least doesn’t feel forced.

I know Win Win has gotten compared to The Blind Side, and rightfully so, but I think this is leagues above the mundane result that was The Blind Side.    I’m not sure how well Win Win will hold up in the long run of cinema lore, but I assume it will have more legs than Sandra Bullock’s crown jewel.

Highlight of the movie though: Bobby Cannavale.  His role as Giamatti’s best friend who becomes an assistant coach to distract himself from his ex-wife was hilarious.  I laughed basically every time he was on the screen.  This guy should get more work!  And of course, Paul Giamatti is awesome as always.  Rest of the cast, they did what they had to do.  Amy Ryan was decent, though I have trouble shaking her from her role on The Office.  And the kid who plays Kyle seems like maybe he’s not the greatest actor, but it fit for this character.

Overall, Win Win is definitely worth checking out.  It’s not as good as maybe I would have hoped, but I was pretty drawn in the whole time.  And I know it’s kind of a lame thing to criticize a film based on expectations, because you should mainly watch it just for what it is.  But even from that standpoint, as I was watching it I was let down a little by how things turned out in the end.  But then again, it was the realistic ending, I suppose.  Win Win isn’t amazing, but it’s better than most shit that gets wide release.

7.5 out of 10

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