Movie review: Win Win

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

It bobs, and it weaves. But "Win Win" will eventually pin you.

Movies like this are why I go to movies, the sort of bubbling film you can try to resist but will eventually win you over.

Mike Flaherty (Paul Giamatti) is a small-town New Jersey attorney who helps the elderly and is struggling to make ends meet. Yep, he's a lovable lawyer.

He's also the coach of a last-place high school wrestling team. That is until the grandson (Alex Shaffer) of one of Mike's clients - a remarkably talented wrestler - comes to town.

"Win Win" is the latest of three remarkable little films from writer-director Thomas McCarthy, who also made "The Station Agent" and "The Visitor."

He's got an offbeat sense of humor similar to Alexander Payne's ("Election," "Sideways"), but there's more warmth than cynicism.

His characters are sometimes odd, but they always feel real. They don't always do the right thing, even when they try.

Giamatti's Mike is whiny and conflicted, but he's easy to empathize with.

There's a remarkable charm in first-timer (and actual wrestler) Shaffer. He's the disaffected, shrugging teen, but there's a kindness - and explosiveness - beneath the surface.

The whole thing is wrapped in a consistently hilarious package, as long as you don't mind a little weirdness. It's a winner.

Win Win

Opens Friday

4 stars out of 4