Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Movie review: "A Little Help"

 "A Little Help" can be classified as a "feel good" movie simply because the main characters are so screwed up you feel good about your own life by comparison.

Daniel Yelsky and Jenna Fischer
Jenna Fischer stars as Laura, a dental hygenist and mother who drinks, smokes, and lies too much and allows herself to be pushed around by everyone in her extended dysfunctional family. Her husband (Chris O'Donnell) is a philandering, mostly absent father. Their 12-year-old son (Daniel Yelsky), not surprisingly, turns out to have his share of problems, and makes up a whopper of a lie that entangles his mother.

When she's not being bullied by her husband, Laura is bossed around by her control-freak sister (Brooke Smith) and hypercritical mother (Lesley Ann Warren).

With all this negativity, it's a nice surprise to see the story has moments of humor and warmth, largely because of amiable performances by Fischer and Rob Benedict, who plays her brother-in-law, the least screwed up character in the cast.

Still, while we're supposed to be rooting for Laura, her relationship missteps are so painfully wrong that the movie is sometimes hard to watch.

Also, one element of the story's premise doesn't ring true. Laura has been a mother for some 12 years, apparently without much help from her husband, yet she has none of the characteristics experienced mothers develop. She is uncertain and indecisive, and has no sense of self-reliance. It's almost like she's just noticing that she has a son to raise.


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