A Little Help
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this indie drama (with comedy elements) about a troubled mom whose husband suddenly dies is filled with bad behavior and doesn't really have any positive role modeling. The main character's 12-year-old son spreads a huge lie, and she allows it. There's also a lot of arguing, sometimes between the mother and son. She drinks quite often -- sometimes vodka, but mostly beer (her beer of choice, Budweiser, is often displayed on screen) -- and there are hints that she has a drinking problem. She also smokes cigarettes, and a teen and a secondary adult character smoke pot. Language is strong, including "f--k," "s--t," "t-ts," and "c--t." There's no nudity, but expect some implied/off-screen sex and sexual innuendo. Teen fans of star Jenna Fischer's TV show The Office may be interested, but despite the fact that there's a prominent preteen character, this one is geared for adults.
What's the story?
In 2002 on Long Island, Laura (Jenna Fischer) is unhappily married to Bob (Chris O'Donnell), stuck with an overbearing family, drinking too much beer, and secretly smoking in the car. When Bob suddenly dies, Laura's 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 it's wrong, but she 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?
Is it any good?
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 with A LITTLE HELP, and the result is 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.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the main character's drinking. Why does she drink? Is she an alcoholic? What message does the movie ultimately send about drinking?
Are there any admirable characters here? If not, what makes them interesting? Are any of them working toward something positive?
How does the movie portray mother-son relationships? Does it seem believable/realistic?