It took me almost the entire summer to see this film. It’s not through the fault of others (though I had wanted to see it with other people), but somehow other, good to great films came along and I saw those. And I had to drive to see this movie too (I’m largely anti-driving today, given the fact that part of this review is being written on a train).

On to the movie, which by and large is quite good. When broken down, the situations can apply to just about anyone in a relationship, both heterosexual and homosexual, but given the twist of having the main couple as a lesbian couple with children (that, pardon my French, are fucked up but not too fucked up, which describes every single child in the history of humankind), some different things can be done with the formula.

If there is a glaring weakness, it’s Ruffalo’s character, Paul. It’s not his fault; the role of the schlep-like surrogate is perfect for him. What doesn’t work out well is the eventual recasting of him as the antagonist, wherein he becomes more of an opportunist and tries to get more involved in the family when things turn south. The shift is subtle enough, but it ruins the character, who throughout the film, despite his nonchalant attitude, comes off as a rather likable self-made man. Credit to Ruffalo for bringing that charm.

That change occurs during the third act, but the ending does wrap things up nicely. The first two acts are much stronger: much of the scenes of everyone meeting the first time is appropriately clumsy and embarrassing. Each scene tends to bring out the worst in the characters in often hilarious effect: Nic (Bening) is a raging alcoholic, Jules (Moore) is too analytical and micromanages everything, Paul offends everyone and then takes back everything he says to try and not offend anyone, and Joni and Laser (Wasikowska and Hutcherson) just want to get away from the table, period.  Jules ends up going to work with Paul, and their fling covers the second act.  Paul, being Paul, enjoys the sex, while Jules looks for acceptance and gets it with Paul.

The film is essentially a slice of life, just skewed in a way, with each character facing troubles and dealing with them in sometimes conventional and unconventional ways.  It’s entertaining, often times quite hilarious, and touching as well.  Save for the stumble in the third act, you can’t go wrong with this film.

So yes, it’s been out for two months already, and if you haven’t seen it yet, go ahead and do so.  You’ll enjoy it.

A-

Advertisements