Sundance Review: Paul Giamatti and Amy Ryan wrestle laughs in 'Win Win'
Does Fox Searchlight have another hit on their hands?
PARK CITY - Fox Searchlight has become a staple at the Sundance Film Festival over the past decade and not just because they have acquired films such as "Napoleon Dynamite," "Once," "Little Miss Sunchine," "Garden State" and "Waitress." The company has also debuted their own features for the Park City faithful, sometimes up to a half a year before their release. The studio took chances on "The Savages," "500 Days of Summer" and "Cyrus" and were rewarded in spades with fantastic reviews across the board. This year, Searchlight has brought two of their more commercially viable films, the Ed Helms comedy "Cedar Rapids" and Thomas McCarthy's "Win Win" which debuted tonight.
Set in the vast suburbia of New Jersey, "Win Win" begins as Mike Flaherty (Paul Giamatti) realizes he's in dire financial straights with his friendly neighborhood law practice. Hiding the problem from his feisty wife Jackie (a great Amy Ryan), Mike offers to make himself the guardian for a client with severe dementia, Leo (Burt Young), after neither the state or his office can track down Leo's next of kin. It turns out Leo is loaded and becoming his guardian will give Mike an extra $1500 a month. Everything seems to be kosher until Leo's grandson Kyle (Alex Shaffer) shows up from Ohio.
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Granted, as described it's an uneven mix, but Giamatti and Ryan have enough comic chops and gravitas to make it entertaining even when you see where the story is going. For McCarthy, this seems like an attempt to make a flat out commercial film in his own style. The result won't be an awards player like his last feature, "The Visitor," but it could be a nice early spring hit on the art house circuit for Searchlight.
"Win Win" is currently scheduled to open in limited release on March 18.
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