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Kate and Charlie are happily married; well they laugh a lot but that might be due to their excessive alcohol intake. She is a school teacher of young kids and he is a journalist who writes from home. She sometimes needs a ‘hair of the dog’ to get going in the morning, and as any of us who have been there will know’ that can cause a bit or a reflux now and then. Well she manages to chunder in the class room and miss the bin - oops.
After managing to lie her way out of the whole episode, the vice principal lets on that he knows she is an alcoholic as indeed is he and invites her to do a twelve step programme. Well after a night where her antics take her to a very dangerous place albeit in a very funny way, she realises that she has to do something. The problem is that once she sobers up she takes a look at her life with Charlie and finds it wanting. Having personally lived around people ‘who like a drink’, when I heard the phrase ‘I’m sorry I was drunk’ being used as a catch all excuse, it really stopped me in my tracks, I think even I have used that on occasion and it is painful to realise how worthless that excuse is.
This is billed as a comedy/drama, and yes it is funny, but it is tragic-comedy and a lot of it is laughing at how pathetic a drunk is and how desperate they can become. Kate is played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead (‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’) and she is completely brilliant and manages to do the drunk bits as both funny and sad. Her husband Charlie is Aaron Paul best known for the TV series ‘Breaking Bad’ as Jesse Pinkman, he is also convincing and compelling in how he tries to change and the interplay between them is excellent. Megan Mullally (Karen from ‘Will and Grace’) plays the Principal and does so straight faced which is just great as a supporting role.Read more ›
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Many times the themes of alcoholism were used in cinematic history. Be it for comic humour (Chaplin), comic book character meltdown (Iron Man 2) or drama (The Wrestler), the bottle always had a fascination amongst directors and writers.
This time, the elements meet with a talented cast, an 81 minute long storyline and only a few VERY interesting moments that seem to shine a light at what a more ambitious script could have lead to. Don't get me wrong, the movie is quite good, it just never really got to the point where I was surprised at the road and decisions it took. Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays a functional alcoholic married to Aaron Paul's character, an even more functional alcoholic. The flow of the movie is interesting, but needed a bit more meat around the bones. The structure was there and promising, but never did deliver on what could be considered "groundbreaking" and Mary Elizabeth delivers a slightly more nuanced interpretation, but still needs to add a few strings to her talents. Her decisions seem to be clean, easy and never to the point where you feel the character truly exists. Only two or three times do we get a glimpse of the hardness of the story and character development that could have been.
Giving credits where credits are due, the acting team does a very good job (Aaron Paul is particularly convincing), the directing is reserved yet very much present, the cinematography makes the entire thing feel quite natural and it's nice to ditch heavy special-effects movies for a much simpler and intimate story.
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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Alternative title: "Sober"Nov. 16 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
"Smashed" (2012 release; 85 min.) brings the story of a married couple, Charlie (played by Aaron Paul) and Kate (played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who enjoy going out and partying it up. Then several incidents happen to Kate (blacking out in the middle of nowhere; throwing up in front of her elementary school students due to a hangover), which really make her rethink the direction of her life. Without so much as consulting with Charlie, she decides almost on a whim to join AA (at the suggestion of a co-worker who has been there before), while Charlie does not. At that point we are just 30 min. into the movie (hence my suggested alternative title for the movie, "Sober") and the rest of the movie plays out the strains and challenges which Kate faces with her co-workers at school, Charlie at home, and even her mom to whom she's not particularly close. I'm not going to tell you how it all plays out, as that would just ruin your viewing experience.
Couple of thoughts: Mary Elizabeth Winstead carries the film on her shoulders, and she does a terrific job at that, although certainly Aaron Paul (he of "Breaking Bad") does a credible job too. There are a couple of pivotal scenes in the second half of the movie between these two as their relationship seems to fall off a cliff after Kate joins AA, and where you can really see how Winstead just throws herself into this role. There is also a small choice role for Octavia Spencer as Jenny, Kate's sponsor at AA. Also worth mentioning is the lovely soundtrack for the movie, with a bunch of obvious and not-so-obvious indie music from the likes of Cass McCombs, Richard & Linda Thompson and, best of all, the song "Our Anniversary" by Bill Callahan (a/k/a Smog).
This movie clearly was made on a shoestring budget, but it doesn't matter. The is one of those "little movies that could", bringing some great performances while examining the fall-out on relationships resulting from being smashed/sober. This is MILES away from your standard Hollywood fare. If you are in the mood for a quality indie movie, I am quite certain that you will enjoy "Smashed".
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Raw and TrueDec 8 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
"Smashed" is an incredibly insightful movie about a young woman's courageous journey to personally change the legacy passed down to her by her family. Mary Beth Winstead is brilliant in her portrayal of Kate. There is no sugar coating on what lies ahead of her as she struggles with these changes. The affect on relationships, lifestyles, and convictions is raw and true. It will likely be moving and familiar to anyone trying to make personnel changes for the better, whether with substance abuse or any other major life change. This is an important piece of work with the potential for far reaching application and impact. Don't miss it.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Loved this movie!March 18 2013
- Published on Amazon.com
I really loved this movie! I think it was a true depiction of the downward spiral of alcohol and getting sober!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Alcoholism is bad um kay?Aug. 15 2013
- Published on Amazon.com
Kate and Charlie are happily married; well they laugh a lot but that might be due to their excessive alcohol intake. She is a school teacher of young kids and he is a journalist who writes from home. She sometimes needs a `hair of the dog' to get going in the morning, and as any of us who have been there will know' that can cause a bit or a reflux now and then. Well she manages to chunder in the class room and miss the bin - oops.
After managing to lie her way out of the whole episode, the vice principal lets on that he knows she is an alcoholic as indeed is he and invites her to do a twelve step programme. Well after a night where her antics take her to a very dangerous place albeit in a very funny way, she realises that she has to do something. The problem is that once she sobers up she takes a look at her life with Charlie and finds it wanting. Having personally lived around people `who like a drink', when I heard the phrase `I'm sorry I was drunk' being used as a catch all excuse, it really stopped me in my tracks, I think even I have used that on occasion and it is painful to realise how worthless that excuse is.
This is billed as a comedy/drama, and yes it is funny, but it is tragic-comedy and a lot of it is laughing at how pathetic a drunk is and how desperate they can become. Kate is played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead (`Scott Pilgrim vs. the World') and she is completely brilliant and manages to do the drunk bits as both funny and sad. Her husband Charlie is Aaron Paul best known for the TV series `Breaking Bad' as Jesse Pinkman, he is also convincing and compelling in how he tries to change and the interplay between them is excellent. Megan Mullally (Karen from `Will and Grace') plays the Principal and does so straight faced which is just great as a supporting role. The whole thing is well made, brilliantly acted and tackles alcoholism in an honest way and the humour is incidental not the raison d'être, which is just how it is in real life. I know a few alcoholics and the humour gets them through - up to a point, I intend to lend this to a couple of them as it captures real life so well. Highly recommended indeed.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Beautifully acted with raw power, but seems too abbrieviated.April 28 2013
- Published on Amazon.com
Films dealing with alcoholics are rarely anything less than depressing, with the rare instance of a film like the original ARTHUR (which is a hilarious and heartfelt joy to watch). Going back to THE LOST WEEKEND or DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES to more recent films like Paul Schrader's LIGHT SLEEPER, or really any film dealing with addiction made in the last 20-odd years, alcoholism and addiction are not really to be made light of anymore. It's understandable, and there are always good reasons for film and television dealing with alcoholism and addiction with the appropriate amount of gravitas. James Ponsolt's SMASHED makes a something of a case that a film about alcoholism can have dramatic weight, but can also look at it with a bit of humor in its heart, and that's thanks to a revelatory performance by Mary Elizabeth Winstead and a terrific, if perhaps underused, supporting cast.
Winstead plays Kate, a grammar school teacher who, along with her occasionally-employed rock critic husband Charlie (BREAKING BAD's Aaron Paul), have an abiding love of good times and lots of drinks. When Kate finds herself hitting bottom relatively hard (she pukes in front of her class due to her hangover, and lies about being pregnant to them and to the school's principal played by Megan Mullaly), she decides that it's time to get sober. Through the help of the school's vice-principal (Nick Offerman) who recognizes her as a drunk, he gets her into AA. But Charlie isn't terribly supportive of this, and continues to drink. Kate's mom (Mary Kay Place), a long-time functioning alcoholic, also feels that trying to get sober is a fool's errand. Through AA, Kate also meets a friendly and sassy sponsor in Jenny (Octavia Spencer), who she confides in and helps her through the rough times, at least until her personal and work life hit rock-bottom.
While the film ends on a note of quiet triumpth, it feels like a good chunk of the film was just excised to get to the meat of the storytelling and really concentrating on Winstead's amazing performance. I've been kind of in love with her since seeing her in flawed films like LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD and DEATH-PROOF, but seeing her as Ramona Flowers in the brilliant SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD kind of sealed the deal of wanting to see a lot more of her, and this performance is just tremendous. It's not particularly showy in a way that garners awards, but instead, she vanishes into her role physically, down-playing her natural beauty and seeming more plain-jane than we've seen her before, as well as emotionally. Her demeanor flips between highs and lows (including a particularly suspenseful but hilarous moment after she's just smoked crack for the first and only time), and they're all played extremely convincingly. Paul is quite good here, but his character isn't much of a variation on Jesse Pinkman to say that it's a stretch. Mullaly and Offerman, natural comedians, are also a bit of a revelation here as they reach out of their comfort zone. As for the rest of the cast, sadly Spencer and Place are in roles that barely amount to more than cameos, which was pretty disappointing.
The script and direction by feature-length newcomer Ponsolt (and co-writer Susan Burke) is very naturalistic and never seems over-wrought. And again, there are moments of genuine humor here, particularly between Winstead and Offerman, who share one of the most uncomfortably funny scenes in recent memory. One of the nice things also about the way that Kate is written is that there's never a scene where she's pushing Charlie to join her in sobriety; she lets their relationship play out and see where he lands. Unfortunately, the film does seem to short some of the characters in its perhaps too brisk 85 minute run-time. It could have done well with either excising some of the characters or giving the supporting cast some more depth.
Once it's all said and done, though, this is really Winstead's show, and it's a marvelous, career-changing performance, and if for no other reason, SMASHED should be seen for Winstead.