Best Movies of All Time + Win Win



Win Win is a 2011 dramatic comedy directed by Thomas McCarthy. It follows a struggling lawyer named Mike Flaherty (Paul Giamatti) who moonlights as the local high school's wrestling coach. When one of Mike's elderly clients named Leo (Burt Young) receives a court order to be placed into a nursing home, he steps up and takes on Leo's guardianship so that he can rake in the monthly check associated with the title. He doesn't tell his wife Jackie (Amy Ryan) about the decision; instead, he just acts like nothing has changed and life has continued to move at its regular pace. Things become complicated when Leo's estranged grandson Kyle (Alex Shaffer) shows up on his doorstep in the hopes of living with his grandfather. Because his mother (Melanie Lynskey) is in rehab, Mike and Jackie agree to take care of Kyle until his mother can come get him. Mike quickly learns that the very quiet boy has a knack for wrestling. He quickly enrolls Kyle in the high school in order to get him onto the team, and the wins start to come from there. Everything seems to be going great until Kyle's mother shows up unannounced, asking to take both Kyle and Leo back home.

I'm sure this isn't the first film that a lot of you would be rushing to see in theaters this weekend, but it might be better than you all would think. I've long been a Giamatti fan, so when I heard Win Win was actually playing somewhere near me, I jumped at the chance to see him in action. Now, he's not quite as good as he's been in the past, but Giamatti is so refreshing an actor - in that he brings such a different type of character to the screen - that he alone almost makes Win Win a must-see.

The fact that he's surrounded by some other great performances also helps this movie's cause. Ryan is very good in a supporting role, complimenting Giamatti's quirkiness quite well. Lynskey provides a few emotional scenes, and Young is very good as an elderly man succumbing to dementia. We even get a steady string of laughs from Mike's best friend Terry (Bobby Cannavale). However, a lot should be said of young Alex Shaffer, making his first appearance in any type of film (according to IMDb). Although he's not phenomenal, he brings a very raw performance to the screen that proves to be very, very good. As time goes by, I think he has the potential to hone his craft and become a truly great actor, but I guess we'll have to wait and see.

All of that is not to say that Win Win completely...well, wins, for lack of a better term. I did have a little bit of issue with the screenplay, if only that it's entirely predictable. You can see the twists and turns coming from a mile away, and the ultimate resolution is also telegraphed a little too strongly. The dialogue is quite good, and the character arcs are good enough to be believable, but the actual story is a little bit slow. Maybe that's just me, picking up on it a little too quickly. Then again, I'm not the smartest guy in the world, so if I'm figuring out the ending in the first twenty minutes, then I'm sure a lot of other people are as well.

Still, Win Win is a very entertaining movie that's filled with comedy but also delves into the dramatic time and again. It's paced very well, and the pure presence that Giamatti brings to his role makes it almost worth the price of an admission ticket. Again, maybe that's just me. For everyone not obsessed with Mr. Giamatti, Win Win might be better off as a future rental. Either way, I don't think you're going to hate it by any means.

Movie Review Summary:Grade: B
1.5 Thumbs Up

2011, Alex Shaffer, Amy Ryan, Bobby Cannavale, Burt Young, comedy, drama, Melanie Lynskey, movie review, Paul Giamatti, Thomas McCarthy, and more:

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