(Carla Gugino, Liev Schreiber, Helen Hunt, Brian Dennehy, Eddie Izzard, et al / DVD / R / 2011 / IMAGE Entertainment One)
Overview: Liev Schreiber (Salt) heads an all-star cast in this warm and wise comic drama as Ned, a loving husband and devoted father dealing with life's curveballs. He's got a stressed-out wife (Helen Hunt, As Good As It Gets) an independent teenage son (Ezra Miller, City Island), and an embittered father-in-law (Brian Dennehy, Silverado) who's turning his home upside down. And that's just the beginning!
DVD Verdict: As much as I liked (and wanted to like it more) this film, my only real criticism of it is that Helen Hunt, in her role as Jeannie, comes across as so desperately unhappy, bitter, and angry that she borders on being shrewish at times. On the other hand, she is in a very difficult situation, with a very unhappy, demanding, and critical father as well as the usual challenges of a home, marriage, children, etc.
Even though her unhappiness is understandable, it is sometimes hard to feel sympathy for her. She has difficulty maintaining any perspective. She is frequently so upset that I found it easy to understand why her husband felt lost on the sidelines at times (although he does his best to help ) and also why her children were frequently confused and scared. Her husband also (again, understandably) finds it hard to resist the appeal of an attractive co-worker who makes it clear she is open to evenings full of sex as well as work projects.
In spite of any issues with this movie, any viewers (raising hand) may well relate to Jeannie's challenge of trying to care for an aging parent. The primary duties fall to her and she is clearly over her head. She already had a difficult relationship with her father before he became ill and having him move in with her and the rest of her family doesn't make things easier.
Brian Dennehy is superb as the father who struggles with both alcoholism and suicidal impulses. He is frequently harsh and critical, not only of Jeannie but also with her children. Lieb Schrieber holds his own as Ned, Jeannie's husband. Then there is Eddie Izzard, who gives a strong, solid performance as Ned's boss.
To complicate matters even more, one of Jeannie and Ned's children, Jonah (Ezra Miller) is gay and Ned is having a hard time accepting this. Jeannie is relatively supportive and this is a sore point between her and Ned.
As the movie unfurls, there isn't exactly a "happy" ending but there is true growth in most of the characters. The movie completely held my interest but that may be only because I related so strongly to the theme. It isn't exactly a sunny or upbeat film. But it is well done and honest. If you're a caregiver for an elderly person, this may be one of the few films that you'll find which doesn't gloss over the realities.[KC] This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.77:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of: