Thankfully I had the movie Win Win ready to plop into my DVD player yesterday, as the day was dreary and my mood was in need of some cheeriness, and this movie provided the perfect remedy.
Paul Giamatti plays Mike Flaherty, an attorney who's always trying to do the right thing, but that doesn't seem to be working in his favor. He shares office space in an old house with his friend, Stephen (Jeffrey Tambor), where the old boiler in the basement clanks and needs costly replacement and he has to constantly plunge the toilet to keep it working properly. He's trying to stay upbeat when the stress is pounding him down. In their spare time, Mike and Stephen also coach a high school westling team, which is very good at losing.
Through his work as an attorney trying to help the elderly, an "opportunity" presents itself to Mike and he makes a bad choice because it will keep the bills paid when he doesn't know how else to do that. As bad choices always do, it comes back to haunt him.
Through his work with an elderly gentleman, Leo, Mike meets his grandson, Kyle (Alex Shaffer), who has come to find Leo because his mom is in rehab and he needed somewhere safe to live. Mike and his family take Kyle in and grow to really care about him, and it turns out Kyle is a very good wrestler, who teaches the team how to win. Kyle settles into a life with people who care about him - Mike's family, the wrestling team, his grandfather - then his mother shows up. This is when Mike's bad choice comes to light and all the parts of his life that had started to go right for a change fall apart.
Alex Shaffer in his first movie role is so good as Kyle. From the moment he shows up on screen you just care about this kid. Bobby Cannavale is hilarious as Mike's best friend, always talking on his headset and annointing himself "assistant coach" when the wrestling team starts winning. And in a small role as an attorney for Kyle's mom, Margo Martindale shines. She just won an Emmy for her role in Justified (so genius) and is a great executive assistant on A Gifted Man, a new fall TV show. It's great to see good actors working on a regular basis.
When you need a bit of a tug at your heartstrings and an uplift for your soul, I recommend Win Win.