Dental hygienist Laura Pehlke's marriage has become sexless and dysfunctional. Because she drinks and smokes too much and has let her appearance go, she suspects her husband is cheating on her. When he suddenly dies, she finds herself buckling in to her controlling sister and mother who push her into initiating a lawsuit she doesn't want to pursue against her husband's doctor and sending her introverted, troubled son to an elite private school he doesn't want to attend. Things get more complicated when she finds her son has told classmates his father is a dead 9-11 hero, and her brother-in-law confesses he's always loved her, not her sister. Laura needs "a little help" to deal with her life.Written by
Great TV dramedy shoehorned into an awkwardly framed movie
I personally would give this movie 6.5/10 if possible; it isn't particularly good, but as other reviewers have commented, I appreciated the rawly exposed main character Laura (Jenna Fischer). I don't think the characters make believable individual families, but together the chemistry of the actors remind me of 'The Royal Tenenbaums', which I felt was as overrated as this movie is underrated.
The plot of the movie is contrived, but if one looks at the writer/director (Michael J Weithorn), it makes perfect sense that the characters are very unique, but there is simply not enough time to develop them fully. The setting (Long Island, 2002) lends this movie some interesting flavor and some of the scenes where I laughed out loud were because they were ironic/sarcastic and generally dry, which I feel accurately depicts the vanilla suburbia that surrounds the concrete jungle of NYC. There is a theme of class warfare that I found interesting even if it did not develop into a great ending.
For people who haven't seen it but might try it on Netflix, etc., it can best be explained like this: the first 25 minutes introduce many characters and would make an interesting TV pilot, and the rest of the movie tries to awkwardly make the people pieces fit together into a situation that would be better delivered as several half-hour episodes/seasons on basic cable. The ending is not particularly gratifying, but the reflections on life and the character development make it a sentimentally rewarding movie. Go into it with low expectations, and you will be pleasantly surprised. Watch it a second time, and you will be rewarded with its subtlety.
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