The Herald of Everett, Washington
Customer service  |  Subscribe   |   Log in or sign up   |   Advertising information   |   Contact us
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up  Green editions icon Green editions

Young boozehound cleans up in sober ‘Smashed’

  • Aaron Paul is Charlie Hannah and Mary Elizabeth Winstead is Kate Hannah in "Smashed," about a couple who drink too much.

    Sony Pictures Classics

    Aaron Paul is Charlie Hannah and Mary Elizabeth Winstead is Kate Hannah in "Smashed," about a couple who drink too much.

SHARE: facebook Twitter icon Pinterest icon Linkedin icon Google+ icon Email icon |  PRINTER-FRIENDLY  |  COMMENTS
By Robert Horton
Herald Movie Critic
@citizenhorton
Published:
  • Aaron Paul is Charlie Hannah and Mary Elizabeth Winstead is Kate Hannah in "Smashed," about a couple who drink too much.

    Sony Pictures Classics

    Aaron Paul is Charlie Hannah and Mary Elizabeth Winstead is Kate Hannah in "Smashed," about a couple who drink too much.

Two weekends at the movies, two stories about alcoholism. Last week's "Flight" had the advantages of Denzel Washington and a tremendously exciting plane-crash sequence.
This week, "Smashed" has Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Not a marquee name, not yet, although the actress has done good work in "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" and the "Thing" prequel.
"Smashed" also lacks the plane crash, or any other kind of larger-than-life action. It trusts life-sized life to be compelling enough.
The movie wastes no time with suspense or build-up. We see from the opening sequences that Kate (Winstead) and Charlie (Aaron Paul, from "Breaking Bad") are way into the booze.
One night Kate finds herself waking up bleary and hung-over after smoking crack with a stranger and blacking out in a bad part of Los Angeles. This is a good indicator that she might need to get help, although Charlie is content with continuing the partying.
Her drinking problem has led her into an absurd situation at the grade school where she teaches; the principal (Megan Mullally) is convinced Kate is pregnant, and Kate has done nothing to discourage this.
A fellow teacher (Nick Offerman) knows the truth, and as a recovering alcoholic, he gets Kate to her first AA meeting. The scenes that follow will not be unfamiliar to those who have seen other movies in this setting.
Director James Ponsoldt is nothing if not sincere, and he has a very good eye for L.A. locations that seem fresh and authentic. There's something poignant about watching Kate and Charlie bicycle through neighborhood streets in the dusk, unaware of the toll alcohol is taking on their lives.
The movie's been described by some as a modern "Days of Wine and Roses," but it's not much like that 1963 classic. This one isn't so much about a couple as it is about Kate's assertion of herself; Charlie drops out of the picture for long portions, and the characters are so young it's easy enough to see their marriage as a youthful experience whose time has passed.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead is excellent in the central role, and it's nice to have quirky pros like Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally pick up the slack.
The movie's earnestness goes a long way to making it watchable, even as it barely seems to sustain its 85 minutes of running time.
"Smashed" (2½ stars)
A young wife (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, strong performance) realizes that she and her husband drink far too much, and decides to get clean -- but he doesn't. A very sincere movie with a fine cast, although its Alcoholics Anonymous plotline is almost too uncomplicated to create interest.
Rated: R for language, subject matter.
Showing: Sundance.
Story tags » Movies

More Entertainment Headlines

NEWSLETTER

Weekend to-do list

Our to-do list full of ideas for your weekend

Calendar

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus