- Allan Hunter
- 16 January 2014
An unintentionally hilarious melodrama starring Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet
Jason Reitman is the closest thing we have to a 21st century Billy Wilder with his fondness for sharply written, tart tasting explorations of modern mores. Juno and Up in the Air proved that there is still intelligent life at work in American comedy. However, all of the satire and cynicism at the heart of his previous work sails out the window in Labor Day, a risible, sun-kissed melodrama that is so ridiculously far-fetched, it would bring a blush to the cheeks of Nicholas Sparks.
On a holiday weekend in 1987, reclusive divorcee Adele (Kate Winslet) and her teenage son Henry (impressive newcomer Gattlin Griffith) make a rare trip to a local store where they are approached by blood-stained stranger Frank (Josh Brolin). They return home together and find themselves at the mercy of an escaped killer who happens to be the saintliest sinner in the world and extremely handy around the house.
In his place you might keep a low profile but he is soon dashing outside to clear the gutters, replace a tyre and teach Henry baseball. When he cooks dinner and starts thrusting his paws into Adele's peach pie, it’s like Ghost all over again. That's before he befriends the disabled kid next door and starts to strum a musical instrument. What a shame that such a catch should be a fugitive from justice but then there are some heavy-handed flashbacks to put a positive spin on that little inconvenience.
Reitman apparently expects us to take this at face value and the actors do their utmost to lend conviction to some unintentionally hilarious slush but it only grows more preposterous and platitudinous as it rolls along. You assumed Mel Brooks had retired but maybe not after watching this misfire.
General release from Fri 7 Feb.