Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Movie review: Labor Day is a gooey, sappy mess
Even women who dig that genre may not enjoy it.
Adele (Kate Winslet) is alone, except for her 13-year-old son Henry (Gattlin Griffith). Together they just manage to get by. Trauma in Adele’s life has left her unable to cope with the outside world. She rarely goes out and when she does she is always afraid. Henry acts the part of husband when he can -- taking care of his mom, helping around the house and getting the necessary things for them to survive. Their world is flipped upside down when Frank Chambers (Josh Brolin), an escaped convict, calmly but forcefully demands that Adele and Henry help him by taking him to their home. What starts as one night ends up a Labor Day weekend that forever changes the lives of both Adele and Henry in ways they never thought possible.
The movie also stars Tobey Maguire, Tom Lipinski, Maika Monroe, Clark Gregg, James Van Der Beek, J.K. Simmons, Brooke Smith, Brighid Flemming, Alexie Gilmore, Lucas Hedges, Micah Fowler and Chandra Thomas.
Based on novel of the same name by Joyce Maynard, Labor Day, from director Jason Reitman, aims for romance but ends up being too gooey and borders on laughable when it should be melting your heart and bringing you to tears.
RATING6/10 stars – Wish it were better, 'cause I love Winslet, but this one is just a big, gooey, romantic mess.
I think a great word to describe Labor Day is melodramatic. The emotion meter is bursting with this one. I am all for a good, sappy love story. Sometimes a girl just needs a good cry, but this one just pushes the boundary of the romantic girly movie a bit too far for my taste. It has moments where you feel for the characters, but then something comes in that just pushed it over the top and actually makes you laugh. Seriously, people in my theater and myself were laughing at moments that I don’t think the writer or director intended us to.
There certainly are moments that felt real and natural. Not the pie scene — seriously, that one I could have done with out. Other moments, simpler things like the scene in the backyard where Frank is playing baseball with Henry. Or the scenes where Henry meets up with a girl he likes and they have their own little romantic moments filled with awkwardness and humor. More of these types of scenes would have brought the movie to a different level for me. That and a more tightly woven story that had a little less gooey love and a little more focus on the drama and the back stories.
It was nice to see Kate Winslet on-screen again. She hasn’t shown her face since 2011 in Contagion (I don’t count her appearance in Movie 43 … sorry). Winslet offers a decent performance as the poor, tortured Adele. What I missed, though, was something fresh in her performance. She has perfected playing the tortured heroine, so I was hoping for more. She at least offers you something interesting throughout to focus on. Brolin I personally didn’t buy as Frank. Having recently seen him in the remake of Old Boy, perhaps my perspective is skewed, but I didn’t feel charmed by him like the characters of Adele and Henry obviously were. Something about him or how he portrayed the character of Frank didn’t seem to fit right.
Honestly, Labor Day feels more like a made-for-TV movie – not the HBO kind – more than it does a Hollywood blockbuster film. There is definitely an audience out there for this, but it is solely for the over-emotional, sappy movie-loving person. Sometimes I am that woman. Labor Day, however, is not the film to meet the needs of my sappy, romantic side.
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