Movie Review #827: Escaped convicts are so hot. Especially the creepy ones. At least that’s what Kate Winslet seems to think in ‘Labor Day’.
By Alexander Diminiano
|Rated PG-13 (contains mature themes, violence, sexual content)|
“Pie crust is a very forgiving thing.” – Frank Chambers (Josh Brolin) in “Labor Day”
Jason Reitman should really be working with Diablo Cody. They’re one of the greatest duos of the new millennium, for sure. When she’s writing, and he’s directing, you get sincere dramedies like “Juno” and “Young Adult”. Alas, Reitman decided he’d fly solo for one film, and I hope it is only one film. He’s written and directed this year’s “Labor Day”, a film that bears not his style, nor his charm. This isn’t a postmodern coming-of-age dramedy, either. His last two were, but now it seems he’s decided to have fun going up the creek without a paddle.
The paddle being that Academy Award-winning writer Diablo Cody that he’s just suddenly abandoned. You need the paddle, Reitman. You need ‘er.
But whatever. I can’t spend a whole review griping about how some director didn’t hire some writer that makes him a better director. I can, however, spend a whole review yammering on about what a shitty director he is when he’s the one writing the scripts. Everything starts out hunkydory in “Labor Day”. Flowers, dandelions, probably some subliminal messages involving smiling, happy people. It’s like the Partridge Family, except we’re watching a movie about a depressed, single mom who is trying to get through life with her son, despite the constant flashbacks to her three miscarriages, her stillborn child, and her divorce. Oh and they don’t play instruments or sing, either. But otherwise it’s all Partridge Family fare. It’s just cheery, so cheery.
Then, lo and behold, an escaped convict enters the story. Josh Brolin plays this guy with such little charisma and such little mercy and so much that would just instill fear in anybody he looks straight in the eye. Kate Winslet’s character Adele falls in love with him anyway, because despite the fact that he’s just escaped an twenty-year sentence for murder, she cordially invites him into her house, and once he’s convinced her that he can bake well, she falls for him. Even though he’s wanted by the police department for escaping his twenty-year sentence in prison, and even though he’s just tied Adele and her son to chairs, because if it looks like he’s kidnapped them when he’s found in their house, they won’t be put in jail for harboring an escaped convict. Logically, that’s true, but as he ties Adele and her son up, he does it gracefully with soothing meditation music in the background. It’s both disturbing and laughable, because you’re really not supposed to make tying someone to a chair look romantic.
If I were Adele, I wouldn’t let him into my house. If he stepped in anyway, I’d say, “Get out.” If he refused to listen, I would find the quickest way of arming myself. I would absolutely not try and fall in love with him like Adele did in “Labor Day”. That’s simply pure stupidity. I’ll say it again in case you missed it the first time: Adele falls in love with this creep because he can bake. So what if he can bake! Baking differs from cooking because baking isn’t a talent. All you need to do is look at the instructions on a [BLEEP]ing Betty Crocker cookbook.
“Labor Day” should have received an R rating immediately, simply for the fact that it’s so uncomfortable to watch. (Somehow, it’s PG-13.) I’ll admit that some sweetness was instilled in my heart as I watched this criminal helping out around the family. But even then, I couldn’t dismiss the fact that this was a creep trying to get people to like him so he could marry into the family. If that wasn’t the case, then maybe it should’ve been presented a bit differently.
Somewhere before its halfway mark, “Labor Day” spends at least 20 minutes acting as a Julia Child instructional on how to make a peach pie. So at $5, I guess it beats buying a $15 cookbook. Then again, you’re paying for $5 to watch all the awkwardness leading into this tasty (and terminally boring) interlude, and all the awkwardness that follows.