Abby: "Remember the moment when you realized your soup didn't have to come out of a can? You know, all manufactured? That your chicken noodle can kick Cambell's Chicken Noodle's ass any day?"Richard Dunn: "I think I'm having that moment right now."
What a gem of a movie I just watched and I didn’t even see it on Sundance or IFC – which is where one would expect to find a quirky little film like this.
Jeff Daniels gives a great performance as unsettled writer, Richard Dunn, who is trying to start a new book but has lost his mojo. He is also in a troubled marriage. His wife, Claire, played by Lisa Kudrow, is a surgeon with a demanding schedule who leaves Richard at home alone as he flounders aimlessly. Well, he isn’t exactly alone. His alter-ego keeps him company in the form of an imaginary Super Hero friend named Captain Excellent (played by Ryan Reynolds). Reynolds does a good job of inserting comic relief when Richard seems to be heading down a dark path.
As we have seen in many films about authors with writer’s block, Richard rents a house out in Montauk, LI during the off-season, in search of some isolation to concentrate on his writing. But he is dealing with more than just writer's block. We soon find out that he is searching for much more than a new story for his book.
He soon meets Abby, a lonely teenage girl – played superbly by Emma Stone – one of the best actors on the planet, in my opinion. I can’t say enough about Emma Stone – she has the ability, in every character she portrays, to reach in and grab hold of one’s heart through the entire film. Richard and Abby’s unusual relationship gives us a glimpse of how powerful it is to have a true-blue friend. The young (but wise beyond her years) Abby shows this much older, troubled, and confused man some simple but real human kindness and companionship and at the same time, she finds a way to surface and face her own pain. There are very deep and poignant moments woven within and throughout this entire story and there is even a surprise in the end - which is always a bonus for me. Daniels and Stone are a delightfully unexpected duo and give extremely moving performances.
Husband and wife writers and directors Kieran and Michele Mulroney gave this film a strong and steady heartbeat by bringing the vulnerabilities, failures and triumphs of these characters to life. This was a low-budget film and was a sleeper at the box-office (as many independent films sadly are) but I highly recommend giving it a look. Rent it or download it and enjoy it.
Movie Review by Liz Berry Wagner