Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jenna Fischer, Chris O'Donnell, Kim Coates, Lesley Ann Warren, Brooke Smith, Aida Turturro, Rob Benedict, Nadia Dajani, Ron Leibman, Sara Kapner, Sam McMurray, Daniel Yelsky, Lynn Cohen, Arden Myrin, Shari Albert
Written by: Michael J. Weithorn
Directed by: Michael J. Weithorn
MPAA Rating: R for language, some sexual content and drug use
Running Time: 108
Date: 05/21/2010

A Little Help (2011)

2 Stars (out of 4)

'A Little Help' Needs... a Little Help

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Michael J. Weithorn, a writer, producer and director on various sitcoms ("Ned and Stacey," "The King of Queens"), makes his feature writing and directing debut here, and it looks like a case of throwing in too much drama with too little payoff. Recounting the list of things that go wrong during the movie is an almost comical experience, and indeed, the movie tries to offer some black humor from time to time to lighten things up. The best and funniest it can manage is a patient's-POV shot of Laura working in her dentist's office, pestered by a noisy parrot squawking behind her.

In 2002 on Long Island, Laura (Jenna Fischer) is unhappily married to Bob (Chris O'Donnell), is stuck with an overbearing family, drinks too much beer and secretly smokes in the car. When Bob suddenly dies, her equally unhappy 12 year-old son Dennis (Daniel Yelsky) makes up a lie about how he was a 9/11 hero. Moreover, her family has arranged for a sleazy lawyer (Kim Coates) to sue Bob's doctor for malpractice. Laura knows this is wrong, but needs the money. Laura slowly finds herself navigating a series of emotional pitfalls surrounding work, family, dating, sex, a noisy dog, and a lovestruck brother-in-law. Will she ever find peace?

All this stuff fails, and though the movie can't possibly wrap up all its dramatic threads in any realistic manner, the way it abruptly leaves off is just as unsatisfying. The upside is that all this drama gives star Jenna Fischer ("The Office") plenty to do (even her girl-next-door beauty is a factor), and she does not waste the opportunity. Hopefully it will make a nice calling card for future, better movies. Dion DiMucci, of "Dion and the Belmonts" (and the hit song "Runaround Sue"), appears as himself.

The new Blu-Ray from Image Entertainment comes with some quickie actor interviews and a music video by Jakob Dylan, plus trailers. Picture and sound quality is fine.

Best Buy Co, Inc.