A Little Help

| October 28, 2011

Available now on DVD, Blu-Ray, and Digital Download from Image Entertainment.
A Little Help is a clumsy TV-level dramatic comedy about family dysfunction and life going off the rails. The film follows Laura (Jenna Fischer from The Office) , a Long Island dental hygienist, who wants nothing more than to gain control of her unruly life but, only seems to be able to cause more chaos. Laura turns to her vices of cigarettes and beer to cope with her bratty young son Dennis (Daniel Yelsky) and distant husband Bob (Chris O’Donnell). The most enviable character is Bob simply because he drops dead very early in the film and no longer has to deal with the strained antics of his family. It isn’t completely believable that Bob would become unfaithful based on Laura’s looks so his cheating seems forced.
Writer/ director Michael Weithorn, who most notably worked as a sitcom writer until now, seems to fancy his story an edgy look at suburban life and romantic failings. But, the characters are too middling and unrealistic to reach this goal. Furthermore, the interesting, serious aspects that could be played for drama are instead played for laughs without ever being funny. One of the most important aspects of the film and is even a selling point on the back synopsis of the Blu-Ray is the romantic subplot between Laura and her brother-in-law (Rob Benedict). But the romance is introduced far too late to have any impact. There is no foreshadowing or even a hint that there could be anything between the two so it comes across as forced.
A Little Help is too cloying to be romantic, too ill-timed to be funny, and too timid to be dramatic. A hodgepodge of ideas are introduced from the continuous needling of Laura’s sister (Brooke Smith) to her son’s elaborate lie that refashions his father as a heroic firefighter that died during the events of September 11th, but they are written on such a surface level the film becomes an unmemorable mess. What becomes memorable is the grating performance by the miscast Jenna Fischer. She is too wide-eyed and palpably innocent to pull off Laura. She strains to give credibility to the vices that Laura relies on. The other actors don’r fare any better. Each character is myopic, annoying and remarkably self-absorbed. Each actor adds no depth to the on-the-nose writing.
Writer/director Michael Weithorn completely fails at creating the interesting, dysfunctional family dynamic he is aiming for. Instead, the milquetoast drama ends on an artificial note of unbelievable sentimentality and courage.

About the Author:

Angelica Jade Bastien is a freelance writer specializing in screenwriting and feminist pop culture criticism. When not writing she can be found reading comics or discussing why Elizabeth Taylor is her cinematic spirit sister. She lives in Chicago with her lovely cat, Professor Butch Cassidy. You can follow her on Twitter @viperslut.
Filed in: Video and DVD

Comments are closed.