"Win Win"

I was fortunate enough to see this film back on January 26, at the Sundance USA premiere at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor. I had been told that Paul Giamatti and Tom McCarthy, the director, would be at the screening, but unfortunately neither of them could make it. Instead, however, we were treated to a Q&A with the producer of the film, Mary Jane Skalski, who is a University of Michigan alum (an English major, actually) and who lives in Michigan and will be shooting an upcoming project here as well.

"Win Win" tells the story of Mike Flaherty (Paul Giamatti, "Barney's Version"), a lawyer who has two kids with wife Jackie (Amy Ryan, TV's "The Office"). Money is tight, and so when Mike gets the opportunity to become a "guardian" to one of his clients who is in the early stages of dementia, which involves a stipend of $1,500 a month, he jumps at the opportunity, and instead sticks the guy, Leo (Burt Young, "New York, I Love You"), in an assisted living home and pockets the money. The problems start when Leo's grandson, Kyle (newcomer Alex Shaffer), arrives on Leo's doorstep, wanting to stay with him since he and his drug-addicted mom (Melanie Lynskey, TV's "Two and a Half Men") had a falling out. Mike and his wife agree to let Kyle stay with them, at least until they can get in touch with his mom, and Mike soon discovers an added bonus: Kyle can wrestle. In fact, Kyle is a GREAT wrestler, which is good for Mike, because he is the coach of the rather pathetic high school wrestling team.

This movie was a good combination of laughs and serious moments. Amy Ryan (TV's "The Office") was great as Jackie, Giamatti's wife in the film, and one of the more hilarious characters was Terry (Bobby Canavale, TV's "Blue Bloods"), who is one of Giamatti's best friends who later becomes an assistant wrestling coach. Jeffrey Tambor ("Tangled") also has a nice supporting role as the other assistant wrestling coach, whose son used to be on the team but eventually quit. All of the supporting players in this movie help make the movie what it is, and they all work really well together.

Yes, see this movie. It start off rather hilariously with a child saying a choice swear word (nothing too bad, though), and it keeps that tone of hilarity throughout, even when addressing serious topics. Giamatti is at the top of his game in this movie, as are his co-stars, which is what makes the movie so great. Going in to the movie, I knew it was a comedy, but I didn't think it would be as funny as it was, and that turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

"Win Win" will be out as a "limited release" (NYC/LA) on March 18th and in the Detroit area on April 1st.

To see coverage from the Ann Arbor premiere, check out my article and, for more pictures, my article at FORMzine.

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