Year 9, Day 132 - 5/12/17 - Movie #2,627
BEFORE: I was out last night at a beer-tasting event at the New York Athletic Club, and that's about as close as I ever get to going to a gym or fitness club. It's a weird place, like a rec center for rich people, and there's a business-like dress code to get into the place - no t-shirts, no blue jeans and no sneakers. You heard that right, it's a gym that you can't wear sneakers to. My ex-boss is a member and invited me. The place is gorgeous, and we were up on the 24th Floor, overlooking Central Park from the south, and if you're drinking good beer with that amazing view, all seems right with the world. Now, I got there a little late and we missed out on the schnitzel, but I did get some potato salad and a pretzel, and then after we hit one of the many restaurants in the complex and grabbed a bite. There's a hotel on site for members and their guests, plus a bar on every floor, or so it seems. There are rumors that the Club even has a pool, basketball and handball courts, but I've been there three times and never seen anything like that.
My original plan was to put "10 Cloverfield Lane" before "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" and then follow up with another Kurt Russell film, but I'm changing the plan at the last second, and rescheduling that Kurt Russell film and another film for June. Why? Because I noticed that Mary Elizabeth Winstead could carry over from "10 Cloverfield Lane" into this film, which JUST started running on premium cable. This would then get me to Mother's Day in one less step, provided I break up the 2 Sandra Bullock films on the list - it would have resulted in a dead-end, I think, if I had run them together anyway.
This also allows me to program another mom-centric film (I think) in advance of Mother's Day. Sure, there are plenty to choose from (not making the cut this year: "Mamma Mia", sorry...) and I can still get back on the original schedule as of Sunday, and connect to Memorial Day (gotta start thinking about a Father's Day film now...). As a bonus, I can now see past Memorial Day and I have a rough schedule that gets me to about June 7 or so. That's a win across the board.
THE PLOT: A man returns to his small hometown after learning that his mother has fallen ill and is about to undergo surgery.
AFTER: I don't know what the exact term for this type of movie is, or what it should be if there is no overarching term - but it's an ensemble comedy/drama where a family comes together for a tragedy and during their time together, they bounce off each other in new and awkward ways, painting a portrait of a bunch of failed or messed-up people, each with their own problems. Family secrets are exposed, disputes are hashed out, and the end result is a blend of happy and sad things that's supposed to represent real life. See also "August: Osage County", "This Is Where I Leave You" and probably many others.
The goal seems to be to pack the maximum amount of drama into the minimum running time, which here includes the patriarch's failing plumbing business, the unemployment of his son, who also regrets splitting up with his ex-wife and still spies on her and his daughters from his parked car outside - while the other brother, who moved to NYC years ago and rarely, if ever, calls home (apparently) because he's got a girlfriend who's pregnant, which causes him doubt over whether he's cut out to be a father, and returning to his hometown puts him in touch with his ex-girlfriend, who's in a failing marriage with a guy who's his ex-classmate and also just happens to be his mother's hospital nurse. Whew, that's a lot to take in, did I miss anything?
And that's just the set-up, there's more drama ahead. I'm not saying this isn't all possible, because it feels very real, however it relies on a great deal of coincidence to make these connections possible. Still, this film premiered at Sundance in 2016, and I bet it did really well there, it feels very much like a festival film. By contrast, too many love stories and family dramas may feel over-simplified, like when a character is a daughter or an artist or a cat owner, because she couldn't possibly be all three things at once.
Check this one out if you can, but get ready to have all the feelings...
Also starring John Krasinski (last seen in "Aloha"), Margo Martindale (last seen in "In Dreams"), Sharlto Copley (last heard in "Chappie"), Richard Jenkins (last heard in "Turbo"), Anna Kendrick (last seen in "Pitch Perfect 2"), Josh Groban (last seen in "Muppets Most Wanted"), Charlie Day (last seen in "Vacation"), Randall Park (last seen in "The Night Before"), Ashley Dyke (last seen in "12 Years a Slave"), Mary Kay Place (last seen in "The Intern"), Isabela Costine, Didi Costine.
RATING: 6 out of 10 wheelchairs