Sunday, April 17, 2011

Win Win (Rhoades)

“Win Win” On a Winning Streak
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Remember when Wheaties was known as the Breakfast of Champions and you downed them by the bowlful, hoping that nutrients would supplement your athletic prowess?
New Providence High School in New Jersey is known as the Home of Champions. But in the new film “Win Win” it seems to be a few wheat flakes short of fulfilling that promise. The school’s wrestling team has been on a losing streak and volunteer coach Mike Flaherty (played by the non-athletic Paul Giamatti) is determined to change that.
Through a shady friend (Rocky’s ol’ pal Burt Young), he meets a youngster named Kyle (Alex Shaffer) who might just be the school’s winning ticket. Everything looks hopeful, until Kyle’s alcoholic mom (Melanie Lynsky) shows up to claim her son.
The true wrestling in this film is not on the mats. Rather, it’s lawyer-cum-coach Mike Flaherty’s wrestling with his conscience as he considers making some easy money or achieving an easy win for his team.
Will he prevail? As the movie’s tagline says, “In the game of life, you can’t lose ‘em all.”
“Win Win” is currently winning points with audiences at the Tropic Cinema.
Paul Giamatti wraps himself in the mantle of his character, like the talented actor he is. And first-time actor Alex Shaffer acquits himself well as the young 135-pound master of the take down.
This drama was written and directed by Thomas McCarthy, himself an actor who has appeared in such films as “Good Night, and Good Luck” and TV shows like “Law and Order. But cinephiles will know him to be the guy behind such acclaimed independent films as “The Station Agent” and “The Visitor.”
The real-life New Providence High School has been the recipient of multiple State Championships in basketball, football, baseball, soccer, tennis, golf, track & field, swimming, and wrestling. In fact, it has produced three state wrestling champions in past years.
So “Win Win” may be fictional. But Paul Giamatti makes it believable.
[from Solares Hill]

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