I love sports movies. We all do, right? I mean, in a sports film, you have gripping drama, lighthearted humor, and sometimes there’s a love interest to boot. Sports and film go hand in hand because in most, redemption rings and rolls and rises throughout and the hero or heroine almost always comes out a winner, or is a winner of sorts, in the end. And so I’m proud to be an amateur sports film critic. I’ll let you know when I go pro.
I’ve seen lots of sports films, but not all of them. There’s a boatload of sports movies out there, and I try to stick to the good ones and stay away from the bad ones. Well, I’m happy to report that I just stumbled across another little gem of a sports flic called “Win Win,” starring Paul Giamatti.
In “Win Win,” on the verge of bankruptcy, a struggling lawyer who volunteers as a high school wrestling coach skims money from the estate of an elderly client, but when the client’s teenage grandson, a gifted wrestler, comes to town, his chicanery comes back to haunt him as the teen comes into his life.
“Win Win” is solidly redemptive. It’s a film that purports this proverb: “Life is full of rules, now meet the exceptions.” It’s a story of redemption and reconciliation and restoration all rolled up into one funny, fanciful, feature that is all at once crass and complex, cute and caring and convicting and convincing. Yes it has language, but it also gives you a lift, and who doesn’t need a lift every now and again!
In sports films, you not only get a stellar story, but you sometimes stumble across actors that put in prize performances as well. Take Paul Giamatti. In “Win Win,” Giamatti gives us a steady, footstompin, feel good finish which was surprisingly unworthy of note by other critics. In another role, he was the boxing manager for James Braddock, played by Russell Crowe, in the 2005 film “Cinderella Man.” His portrayal of a slick, sly deal maker was outstanding. Giamatti was rewarded for his solid performance with a nomination for Best Supporting Actor (an Oscar he should have won).
Not only is Giamatti an actor, but his dad, A. Bartlett Giamatti, was a college president. Of Yale. YALE! And if that wasn’t enough, Dad Giamatti was the Commissioner of Major League Baseball. The Commissioner of MLB! If that’s not sports pedigree, I don’t know what is. And to top it all off, I just learned that Paul and I share a birthday – June 6. He’s surprisingly younger than me, but I’m proud to share my birthday with this sports and acting icon.
So if you have nothing else to do, or you’re snowbound somewhere along the East Coast the weekend of January 22nd during this the blizzard of 2016, check out Win Win. You’ll be glad you did.