Win Win Movie Doesn’t Win

By Todd A. Smith

            It is not that the Win Win movie is not a good story.  It simply has been told before, and told better.  The new film starring Paul Giamatti, as struggling lawyer/high school wrestling coach Mike Flaherty) would be a hit if it were not for the genius of The Blind Side.

            Both films deal with a troubled youth, with athletic talent, who is taken in by a more affluent family and instead of the troubled youth learning something from the middle-class family, the family learns something from the teenager.  The only difference between the Win Win movie and its Academy Award winning counterpart (Sandra Bullock for Best Actress) is that a parent in the Win Win movie has ulterior motives in accepting Kyle (Alex Shaffer) into his family and the Tuohy family in The Blind Side is only accused of having sinister motives.

            Mike, unbeknownst to his wife Jackie, is struggling to make ends meet, even with two jobs.  When the opportunity comes to become the guardian of Leo Poplar (Burt Young) he jumps at the opportunity to make some extra cash, but reneges on his side of the deal.  When Leo’s grandson Kyle, who he did not know existed because of his estranged relationship with his daughter,  comes to town the Flaherty family agrees to take him.

            Not only does Mike’s relationship with Leo allow him to keep his lights on, he also discovers a world-class wrestler to assist his subpar squad.  Although Kyle and Leo are taken under false pretenses, they become a family but those new relationships are tested when real family shows up in the form of Kyle’s biological mother Cindy, played by Melanie Lynskey who rose to fame as Rose on “Two and a Half Men.”

            Because Leo and Kyle immediately bond, he is upset when he learns that multiple parties are taking advantage of him because of his money.  And when Cindy realizes that Mike is supposed to be caring for Leo but instead puts him in a nursing home, it threatens his relationship not only with Kyle, but Jackie also.

            Although the story has been told before, the Win Win movie does have some nice comedic elements, but not enough for the movie to be worth the money.

            Vick, and old friend of Mike, is one of those guys who cannot stop trying to relive his not-so glory days and begs to become an assistant wrestling coach after his wife leaves him for another man.  His comedic touch makes the picture amusing, but overall the movie is still not a win win.

            The story of a family taking in a troubled youth has become redundant in Hollywood, and the Win Win movie will simply get lost in the shuffle.  However, male audiences will enjoy the sports element of the movie and children in similar family situations as Kyle can find inspiration in knowing that people can succeed despite the obstacles.

            Nevertheless, this film does not totally succeed, not because it is not a good story, but because audiences have heard this story countless times before.







Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine, a publication dedicated to the African American community.

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