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Style Magazine

Film Review: Win Win

Apr 16, 2011 05:12AM ● By Wendy Sipple

Mike Flaherty is a New Jersey lawyer, a high school wrestling coach, and family man who runs a practice protecting elderly people’s rights. Unfortunately for Mike this is not the best paying corner of the law and he finds that his business has run dry.

So when a fairly wealthy client is in need of a guardian Mike decides to accept the job to collect the monthly payment of $1500 to help pay his bills. Mike did not expect the complication of the elderly man’s troubled grandson Kyle to show up at his doorstep. Mike and his wife decide to take Kyle into their home. It isn’t too long before Mike discovers that Kyle is an all state wrestler and a good fit in his family. When things start going smoothly Kyle’s deadbeat mom shows up to a wrench in Mike’s plans.

The movie starts slowly but when Kyle is introduced the movie immediately picks up momentum. The Flaherty family is written very well as a down to earth family and not a Hollywood created one. Paul Giamatti has the look and delivery as an everyday guy that most Hollywood actors don’t have. I also appreciated that the family struggles with money and issues was handled well without overreaching for laughs or drama. It was very easy to see why the characters made the decisions they did without them being portrayed as “bad” or “good.”

The supporting cast was extremely strong and all of them had their moments to shine in the Win Win. In particular Amy Ryan and Bobby Cannavale, whose characters in the film bring a lot of good laughs and touching moments. The film belongs to the two leads though. Paul Giamatti always delivers a strong performance and doesn’t disappoint here. His co-star Alex Shafer really shines as Kyle. Alex is a real life state champion wrestler and this was his first role to my knowledge. His portrayal of a troubled, withdrawn, high school boy is spot on. I am uncertain if that is because he can deliver that nuanced of a performance or because he is a teenage boy and just knows the ropes. Either way Alex made Kyle completely believable and easy to root for.

Win Win doesn’t take the easy way out and shows us that is okay sometimes. It has a big heart that a lot of movies don’t display and really shows a family that wants to do the right thing. Although it is a small arthouse movie at the moment it deserves to find a bigger audience. Even though Win Win carries an R rating, mostly for foul language, it actually is a good family film, especially for teenagers and their parents. If you like feel good movies you will certainly enjoy Win Win.

FILMS LIKE WIN WIN: The Blind Side, Rudy and Radio


Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.

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