Last night, as I headed to an advance screening of Labor Day, I was reflecting that it had been ages since I’ve seen a movie targeted at my own age group.
These days, my movie outings typically involve smart-ass, animated animals, snack-packs with collector cups and – more often than I’d like – 3D glasses (just because the technology exists doesn’t mean it’s appropriate to use it in *every* single movie!). Needless to say, I was very excited to be seeing a movie with my girlfriend, with no “little people” in tow.
So it figures, then, that the plot had to be half-baked.
I mean really…this movie left me with So. Many. Questions!! The movie starts out Adele (Kate Winslet) and her young son, Henry (Gattlin Griffith) heading to the town department store to buy new pants for Henry. Adele is obviously out of sorts – very tentative and nervous – but at this point the viewer doesn’t know why.
While browsing at the store, a sweaty and frantic Frank (Josh Brolin) gloms on to Henry and says he needs a ride. Although this is clearly a tiny town – where everyone knows everyone else and their business – Frank manages to locate and steal a shirt/apron that makes him appear to be a store employee. He then stands in line with Adele and Henry – who are clearly uncomfortable with the situation – while they pay the cashier. No gun or weapon has been shown at this point, and the cashier stares at Adele as she is acting strangely. Um…as a parent, would you not speak up? Make a scene? Say something to an employee about that fact that you’re being forced to give a strange, sweaty man – who also has blood on his face – a ride with your young child?
Instead, Adele proceeds to let him into her car, where he sits in the backseat with his thick arm threateningly placed around her 13-year-old son. Then – get this – they pass a police car! Perhaps another opportunity to say, block the police car’s path and indicate that you’re being held hostage? Nope, she drives on by.
Back at Adele’s home, it quickly comes out that Frank is on the lam from prison – where he is serving a sentence for murder (of course it comes out later that he was wrongfully accused). He insists on hiding in their home overnight (there’s a shot of Adele sleeping – wouldn’t you rest peacefully if an escaped murderer was in your home??).
But perhaps my favourite scene was the next day, when a neighbour comes along with a bucket of peaches for Adele. Frank menacingly grabs her around the throat and pushes her around the corner, demanding that Henry answer the door and make up an excuse as to why she can’t come speak to the neighbour. Moments after the neighbour leaves, Frank bites into a peach – then announces that he wants to make a peach pie!
Mere minutes, then, after he has Adele in a life-threatening stronghold, he has his arms sensually wrapped around her body as he demonstrates how to make an effective pie crust (yes, I’m serious…I can’t believe it, either). In a scene that seems to be trying hard to replicate the sexually-charged closeness of the famous Ghost scene – when Patrick Swayze is demonstrating how to shape clay – Frank is caressing Adele’s hands in a big bowl of mushy peaches. Oh – and Henry gets his hands in there, too – why not invite your teen to join in?
Perhaps it was because my “date” for the evening is a professional baker and pastry chef, but we both found this strange scene to be extremely comical. In fact, I think I may have irritated the man next to me with my incessant snickering.
I won’t bore you with all the details of this slow-moving plot, but suffice to say it was a bizarre mixture of uber-depressing flashbacks and unrealistic interactions. An alternative title to this movie might be ‘Labored.’ You could see what they were trying to do – and they tried really, really hard – but unfortunately it just didn’t work.
Maybe animated animals aren’t so bad after all.