The new movie, Win-Win, should appeal to all age groups, but, may be especially appealing as a movie for grandparents to see with their sports-active teenage grand-kids.
The movie deals with a number of real life intergenerational issues that many families wrestle with (pun intended) - a grandfather with signs of dementia who wants to stay in his own home, a mother fighting drug addiction while trying to stay connected to her teenage son, even a young athlete facing and overcoming performance anxiety - in a way that is, at times, immensely entertaining and at others, heartbreakingly depressing. In some ways, it reminded me of The Blind Side. Like the football player in that movie, Kyle is a gifted athlete with a drug addicted, couldn't-give-a-damn mother and a deceased father, who begins to flourish when he is taken in by a caring family.
Interestingly, many in the audience the night I saw the movie were older and probably related more to "Lou" the grandfather, played by Burt Young, than to "Mike" the financially struggling forty-something lawyer and high school wrestling coach (Paul Giamatti) who volunteers to be Lou's guardian after Lou is deemed incapable of taking care of himself as he slips toward dementia, or to Kyle, Lou's sixteen-year-old wrestling grandson, who Mike takes in when he comes to visit Lou.
Some of the scenes in the movies weren't quite believable to me, so I wouldn't say Win-Win was an outstanding film, but, as a sports-themed movie I found it satisfying. The scenes were knit together quite well by a talented cast of actors who sometimes had to save the movie from being too contrived. My favorite character was "Terry" a high school wrestling teammate and Mike's best friend, who, when he realizes how talented a wrestler Kyle is, jumps on the bandwagon and becomes an assistant coach for a wrestling team, that without Kyle, had been on a long losing streak (shades of the "Bad News Bears").
Adding authenticity to the movie is the fact that Kyle is played by Alex Shaffer who, in real life, won the New Jersey state wrestling championship in 2010 when he was seventeen.
The best thing about the movie is the life lessons it teaches for all athletes. My favorite involved one of Kyle's teammates, Stemler, played with goofy charm by David W. Thompson. Inspired by Kyle's gung-ho, never-give-up attitude in the wrestling circle, Stemler finally musters the courage to overcome his fears to wrestle the pivotal match for his team. From years of watching and coaching boys' sports teams, I know that, like Stemler, some boys are fine with riding the bench as long as they can be part of a team yet never feel they are making a contribution. Stemler's story is one that both coaches and athletes will find inspiring.
I highly recommend Win-Win as a movie for the whole family to enjoy together.