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Labor Day Takes Place in a Fantasy World

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Movie Review Jackie K Cooper
Labor Day (Paramount Pictures)

Jason Reitman is the director of such hit movies as Up In the Air, Juno and Thank You For Smoking so he obviously knows his way around a good film. So what can account for his lapses concerning his new film Labor Day? This disjointed love story is flawed from the start and Reitman never regains control of the story. Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet make a brave effort to get something good on the screen but the irrational script, based on Joyce Maynard's novel, defeats them at every turn.

The film loses its audience right at the start. This is when divorcee Adele (Winslet) takes her young son Henry (Gattlin Griffith) to the grocery store. This is a big thing as Adele is a bit of a recluse and going anywhere takes a great deal of willpower on her part. Thirteen year old Henry takes good care of her but she still has moments of nervousness that almost overwhelm her.

In the grocery store Henry is approached by Frank (Brolin) who implies to Adele that she needs to take him to her home or he will hurt Henry. She complies and soon the three of them are inside her home where she learns that Frank is an escaped prisoner who is doing time for murder. Rather than being panicked, Adele finds herself falling in love with Frank. It gets more and more illogical from this point on.

Then there are the little errors that pop up. The movie takes place over Labor Day weekend. At one point Henry goes to the library -- on a Sunday. Where in this country is a public library open on Sunday? The next day, Labor Day, is supposedly Henry's first day of a new school year. On Labor Day? Are you kidding me? Then to add insult to injury Adele and Henry go to the bank on Labor Day and it is open for business. Unless New Hampshire is a lot different from other States in the Union this all just couldn't happen.

Then there is the logic of having Gattlin play Henry at thirteen, Dylan Minette play him at eighteen, and Tobey Maguire play him as an adult. None of these three actors look alike. At least when they show Frank as a much younger man he is played by Tom Lipinski who bears a striking resemblance to Josh Brolin.

The movie is rated PG-13 for profanity and violence.

Winslet, Brolin and young Gattlin are all good actors. They are supported by other solid actors such as James Van Der Beek, Brooke Smith and Clark Gregg. They all try to give sense to the words they speak and actions they are required to do. But it doesn't help. Labor Day may be a labor of love for Reitman and his cast but the audience doesn't get a chance to share this love when the product is this poor.

I scored Labor Day a toiling 4 out of 10.

Jackie K Cooper
www.jackiekcooper.com