Friday, February 28, 2014

Movie Review: "Labor Day" (2014)

Movie"Labor Day"
Director: Jason Reitman
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 51 minutes
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Adele (Kate Winslet), a single and depressed mother, lives with her son Henry (Gattlin Griffith). Ever since her husband left her, she has had a hard time going out into the world. Adele frequently sends Henry to do the majority of things for her. During Labor Day weekend and before the beginning of the school year when Henry is in desperate need of new clothes, they travel to the local PriceMart. While looking at comics, Henry is approached by a man who is bleeding from his stomach and limping. He claims he fell out of a window and asks for a ride. Hesitantly, Adele agrees to give him a ride to their house. It turns out the man, named Frank Chambers (Josh Brolin), escaped from jail, where he was serving time for murder and has now become a fugitive on the run. He maintains his innocence and claims there's more to the story than meets the eye. Throughout the course of the weekend, Adele and Frank begin to fall in love. He teaches Henry about how to change a tire, how to play baseball, all the things his father never taught him. They want to do whatever it takes to stay together, even if it means packing up and leaving.

Jason Reitman is apparently a fan of random, blinding sunbursts.

This movie is just okay. It's there, and it's really nothing special. For some reason, the movie as a whole feels like it's trying really hard to be something artistic, when really it's just yet another melodramatic love story. It seems like it's filled with unrealistic situations and expectations. It tries to explore a deeper meaning of love more than "secretions and bodily fluids," but fails in its attempt. Many of the emotions in this film are perpetuated by the soundtrack, and there's a lot of tension, passion, and heartache inferred from the music. Without it, they would definitely fall flat.

Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin are fine and believable together as a couple, but they are not the strongest on-screen duo. Winslet really does well conveying a pained, fragile single mother, but then again, when isn't she great? Though, I did find myself wanting to slap her at one point...falling in love with a convicted felon? Really? Won't you always wonder if he's guilty, no matter how hard or how often he maintains his innocence?

It's worth mentioning that we thought the younger version of Brolin's character was digitized, only to turn out to basically be Josh Brolin's younger twin, Tom Lipinski. REALLY. It's eerie how much they look alike.

I am in the process of reading the book and noticed a few things omitted from the beginning that I would have liked to see explained in the film. It seems that in many book-to-film adaptations, character development and/or back-story is left out for sake of film time. To me, these little, intricate details mean a lot more than just words. They are there for a reason. I get why they are omitted, but that doesn't change my mind as to why they should be there.

I'm sure these details wouldn't change the mediocrity of this film, though. It's your run-of-the-mill drama with a lot of expectation and no real payout.

My Rating: 4.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 4/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 32%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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