Brian (Dano) is a 28-year-old who sells upscale mattresses and dreams of adopting a Chinese baby. His latest customer is the eccentric, large Al Lolly (Goodman), whose daughter Happy (Deschanel) strikes up a friendship that quickly turns into a sort of romance. But she's a bit skittish about the adoption thing, not to mention meeting his parents (Asner and Alexander) and much-older brothers (Roberts and Stanton). Meanwhile, a homeless man (Galifianakis) seems to be trying to kill him.
Director-cowriter Aselton deliberately keeps the background information to a bare minimum, which is fairly infuriating at times (who is this homeless man and why does he keep attacking Brian?). But for the most part, it gives the film a relaxed, realistic tone that lets us discover the story along with the characters. And Aselton shoots and edits the film with an offhanded style. He catches scenes in an intriguing way that kind of skims over the surfaces while letting the actors provide the depth.
As always, Dano is terrific in yet another difficult role, offering emotional resonance to make up for the lightly defined character. In fact, we are so quickly on his side that we don't really care what happens between Brian and Happy, even though Deschanel offers a charming turn as a woman who has never quite grown up. Asner gets the film's best supporting role as Brian's laid-back dad, while Goodman just about manages to bring to life a man who seems far too deliberately idiosyncratic.
Essentially the film is a bundle of hints and suggestions, and only a few of them actually lead somewhere. It's extremely low-key, but there are also odd moments of violence and some very strong emotional scenes. And when we reach the end, not all of the plot strands are tied up neatly. But what does resonate is the film's quiet exploration of the unbreakable ties that bind us to our families in ways we can never quite explain.
Run time: 98 mins
In Theaters: Friday 19th June 2009
Distributed by: First Independent Pictures
Production compaines: Gigantic Movie, Epoch Films
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 36%
Fresh: 30 Rotten: 53
IMDB: 6.1 / 10
Director: Matt Aselton
Producer: Mindy Goldberg, Christine Vachon
Screenwriter: Adam Nagata, Matt Aselton
Starring: Zooey Deschanel as Happy, John Goodman as Happy's Father, Paul Dano as Brian, Ed Asner as Kirby Weathersby, Jane Alexander as Barbara Weathersby, Ian Roberts as John Weathersby, Robert Stanton as James Weathersby, Clarke Peters as Roger Stovall, Daniel Stewart Sherman as Kevin Blue, Mary Page Keller as Marguerite Lolly, Zach Galifianakis as Homeless Man, Brian Avers as Larry Arbogast, Leven Rambin as Missy Thaxton, Susan Misner as Melanie Lolly, Matt Walton as Conner Williams
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