No actor does ennobled schnook better than Paul Giamatti. Watching him play Mike, a suburban New Jersey lawyer and family man with high aspirations (but shoulders that say otherwise), is its own kind of rich pleasure. This is his best role since Sideways; whether he's down on his knees trying to unclog his modest office's toilet, sparring with his similarly feisty wife, Jackie (the ever-wonderful Ryan), or coaching the local high-school wrestling team to nonmediocrity, Mike bears the weight of real-world anxiety. He's a character I'd happily return to, one almost novelistic in its complexity.
What a heartbreaker, then, when Win Win becomes indie-film cute even as its characters remain recognizably flesh and blood. Seeing after the estate of a demented, wealthy client (a bit of shady legal ethics, that), Mike is suddenly thrown together with the man's troubled grandson, a bleach-blond, tattooed loner named Kyle (Shaffer, ably cast in the Paul Dano part). Wouldn't you know it, but Kyle has wrestling greatness in his grasp;
he's even a former champ. No matter how predictable his arc is, writer-director Thomas McCarthy (The Station Agent) never loses sight of the difficulties of cashflow and making one's weekly nut. You'll want to give his movie---and his secret weapon, the lovably neurotic Bobby Cannavale, as a recent divorc hoping to co-coach the team---a pass for sweetness.
Watch the trailer