A Little Help

I absolutely hate movies like this. Not because of the film itself, but rather, because of the marketing. To get bodies in the building (and dollars in the box office), promoters try to make the film seem like something that will appeal to the most people—in this case, a quirky, offbeat comedy. The poster is quirky. The tagline is quirky. The trailer is quirky. Well, I can tell you with certainty, a quirky, offbeat comedy it is not. It’s closer to a quirky, offbeat tragedy, if such a thing exists.

The year is 2002—that becomes important. Laura (Jenna Fischer) is a Long Island mother who unsuccessfully tries to smoke and drink away the fact that her philandering husband, Bob (Chris O’Donnell), checked out of their marriage years ago. All of that changes when Bob drops dead after a heart condition is misdiagnosed. Now Laura is forced to deal with a seedy malpractice attorney, controlling family members and a maladjusted son, Dennis (Daniel Yelsky). In one of the oddest coping mechanisms ever implemented, Dennis tells the kids at his new school that his father was a firefighter who died on 9-11, and Laura, in a moment of weakness, goes along with it. One immediately gets the feeling that this is not going to end well.

The word that leaps to mind when I think of this movie is pointless. Local hero Jenna Fischer is her usual endearing self, and the performances of the entire cast are incredibly moving. I guess if there’s a message in all of this—and that’s a big ‘if’—it’s that picking up the pieces and starting life over never is easy. It's a 5.