Netflix is normally fairly good at predicting which movies I’ll like and how much I’ll like them. Every once in a while it gets it wrong. Occasionally I find a movie I liked more than Netflix thought I would or vice versa. Netflix thought I would nearly love Win Win. Not so much.
A struggling lawyer and high school wrestling coach, Mike (Paul Giamatti), is stressing out over finances. To help pad his wallet, Mike takes guardianship of an elderly man, Leo (Burt Young). Leo discovers he has a grandson, Kyle (Alex Shaffer), which causes a sticky situation for Mike and his wife, Jackie (Amy Ryan). Kyle’s mom is in drug rehab and Kyle came to Leo in hopes of a better living situation. A fairly typical act follows where Jackie is upset about the mess Mike has made by secretly taking guardianship of Leo. Eventually they come to grips with allowing Kyle to stay with them.
One wrestling practice Mike invites Kyle to join. It doesn’t take long for Mike to discover that Kyle is a great wrestler and from there we’re supposed to experience these two lost souls in Mike and Kyle finding strength in one another. Unfortunately, the story goes nowhere fast and everywhere all at the same time. Needless plot twists mire the last third of the film. The triumphant wrestling montages are uninspired and feel disconnected.
If there is anything redeeming about Win Win it’s Giamatti’s performance. It’s not ground breaking but it makes the movie tolerable. There is only so much one can do to overcome a story that lacks a drive, lacks characters worth caring about. Giamatti does his best to make up for the flaws. Credit him for that.
Win Win? Not for me it wasn’t.