WIN WIN … wins!

Wow – here’s something amazing. Tom McCarthy’s WIN WIN is enjoying a 95% approval rating with’s “Top Critics” – the same score as something like Altman’s NASHVILLE. Not that these two movies have a lot in common. They don’t. But just in the general zeitgeist of movie-liking and likability, this movie is really … winning. Why? (By the way, no secrets here. I really… liked it.)

  1. What’s not to like? Literally, all components of this film please. There’s nary an annoying or off-key element. Performances? Check. Characters? Check. Filmmaking? Check. Story structure? Check. There is nothing shocking, nothing visually unusual, nothing completely unexpected. It pleases – but when all of these elements add up, it really pleases.
  2. The cast is great, but also the casting is great. There’s a difference. These characters feel like people you might actually know. Not everyone is beautiful, in fact, some are schlumpy. Some don’t say much. And some (this means you Bobby Cannavale) are very very funny. Which brings me to…
  3. McCarthy has great comic timing. So in the absence of raw, unbridled innovation (see above, there’s not much here, but there IS a whole lot of solid, specific, carefully crafted story telling), the comedy really does its work.
  4. It’s classically structured … but with non classical dramatic situations, or, in other words, a conflict explored on screen that feels fresh. When was the last time you saw a moral fable/wrestling flick set in suburban Jersey?

All of this equals basic, good old fashioned film satisfaction. They aimed to please; they are winning.

Trailer here.