Margo Martingale Richard Jenkins John Krasinski Anna Kendrick Sharito Copley Josh Groban Charlie Day
In his debut as director of a feature length film, John Krasinski has done a creditable job in steering a fine group of actors through a comedic drama that has its highs and lows. The uneven script by James C. Strouse deals with weighty emotional issues in a sometimes ridiculous dysfunctional family, but goes over the top in the absurd and misses chances for substantive insights—something like what many family sitcoms do, pulling for easy laughs without spending time to be genuine and serious.
John (Krasinski) is called away suddenly to his mother’s (Martindale) bedside when it is determined that she has a brain tumor. Her husband Don (Jenkins), an ineffectual man, is despite a good heart, child-like and tearful. John’s brother Ron (Copley), who is just about as inept, lives at home and is without a job since his father fired him from their failing plumbing business. John has soaked up a bit of this low self-confidence from his family, and even though he is in a happy relationship with his wife Rebecca (Kendrick) and is expecting a baby, he is intimidated by her family’s wealth.
The family’s pathology emerges in full force upon the central figure’s serious illness, especially son Ron, who spies on his ex-wife (with binoculars outside her house!), has inappropriate interactions with his kids, and seems to have zero problem-solving abilities. (As an aside, Josh Groban as a youth minister now married to Ron’s former wife, comes across as a most appealing and patient character who puts religion in a good light.) Don does a bit better in getting a job in a liquor store as a last-ditch effort to save his company. John doesn’t seem to have the foggiest notion of how to support Rebecca emotionally, but fortunately she knows enough to guide him gradually in the right direction. All of these issues comprise the bulk of the comedy of the film, and I realize many people do appreciate this kind of humor. It borders too much on the absurd for me.
Martindale continues to be a star in whichever role she is in on TV or in the movies. Jenkins is a good pairing for her; their timing and obvious emotional connection constitutes much of what is best in the film. Krasinski and Kendrick as a younger duo are not quite so well connected, but she is very convincing as a hugely pregnant wife with a stable personality and ability to express her emotions. Copley and Day do well with the comedic, ridiculous lines they are given, but much of that material is over the top.
A light-weight comedy with some heavy emotional situations.