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Smashed [Blu-ray] [Import]

Mary Elizabeth Winstead , Aaron Paul , James Ponsoldt    R (Restricted)   Blu-ray
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 21.76 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Smashed [Blu-ray] [Import] + In a Better World Bilingual - Blu-Ray/ Combo Pack + Footnote [Blu-ray] (Sous-titres français)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alcoholism is bad um kay? Aug. 15 2013
By Tommy Dooley HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
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.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A nice light movie... Jan. 18 2014
By Simon Bergeron TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
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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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  60 reviews
33 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Alternative title: "Sober" Nov. 16 2012
By Paul Allaer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
"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".
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Raw and True Dec 8 2012
By COOKIE - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
"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
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this movie! March 18 2013
By Kathy Fenton - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Real and fun to watch June 19 2013
By Rextrent - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is a fine story about alcoholism.
Good acting.
No gratuitous sex, violence, foul language, or glorified using.
However, just one instance which I found entertaining BUT would very likely rub someone's mother the wrong way.
Very humourous and, of course, sad in its turn.
This could easily become a treatment staple and popular among AA folk.
Excellent.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "It's not easy to lead an honest life." March 15 2013
By Considering Film (Christopher Bruno) - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray
"I don't know if I'm an alcoholic, really," Kate Hannah says at her first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, "I just drink. I drink a lot. And I've always drank a lot, everyone I know drinks a lot, so I never really thought it was a problem. But lately it kinda seems like it is." This is the crux of James Ponsoldt's acute, concise, heartfelt film, co-written with Susan Burke, herself a recovering alcoholic. Smashed understands that alcoholism isn't always the sad, somber burden that the movies tend to portray it as; oftentimes it's actually a lot of fun, and it's only when the physical and psychological toll of a night's bacchanalian revelry becomes too great to shoulder in the morning -- when the drink and its repercussions can no longer be measured independent of one another -- that the alcoholic is compelled to admit his or her problem.

Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is an elementary school teacher, dedicated and passionate about her job, who nonetheless spends more than just Friday night carousing about the local bars with her husband Charlie (Aaron Paul) and their friends. She is what you might call a functioning alcoholic; she gets to work on time every day, but not without finishing last night's beer in the shower and taking a swig of whiskey from the flask she keeps in her car before heading in to the classroom. Kate is able to get by like this just fine, until one day the hair of the dog proves a little too much and she suddenly, uncontrollably vomits in the middle of class. Embarrassed and stunned, Kate impulsively says "Yes" when her young students ask if she's pregnant, relieved that she doesn't have to explain what a hangover is. Afraid to admit that she's been drinking, Kate plays along when Principal Barnes (Megan Mullally) congratulates her on her pregnancy and sends her home early to rest.

In celebration of her impromptu early dismissal, Kate heads out to the bar for drinks and karaoke with Charlie and his friends. Perhaps feeling remorse for her unprofessional episode at work earlier, she doesn't stay long, insisting that she has work to do and should head home. Outside, however, she is stopped by a girl (Mackenzie Davis) who talks Kate into giving her a ride home. "Home" turns out to be nothing more than a fire and some boxes in the seedy part of town, and on the drive there she convinces the tipsy Kate to take a hit from her crack pipe. When Kate wakes up the next morning on the ground, miles away from her car and with no recollection of how she got there, she decides that it may be time to grow up and slow down.

Charlie keeps pace with Kate, but unlike Kate, he doesn't wet the bed, start drinking first thing in the morning, or end up on the other end of town doing drugs with homeless strangers; so when Kate tells him that she thinks she needs to stop drinking (which she does with a pool cue in one hand and a beer in the other), Charlie doesn't understand why she can't keep drinking and simply stop everything else. "The drinking is what leads to everything stupid that I do," she insists, but for Charlie, who has suffered fewer consequences for his choices than Kate has, it doesn't compute. Charlie seems to think that as long as they drink at home, where there aren't any intruding wayward souls to tempt Kate into transgressing, then she will be in the clear. But when he passes out before she's ready to call it a night, Kate rides her bike to the local store for more booze. When the clerk refuses to break the rules and sell her alcohol after 2am, Kate becomes petulant. First she loses control of her temper, then she loses control of her bladder, urinating on the floor when she is unable to make it to the bathroom in time. The clerk is incensed; when Kate steals a bottle of wine on her way out, he doesn't go after her, he's simply relieved to have her out of the store.

Blacking out and waking up on the side of the road twice in one weekend is apparently the limit for Kate, so when she returns to work the next week and Dave (Nick Offerman), the assistant principal, confides that he's nine years sober, she takes heed. Dave -- who saw Kate drinking in the parking lot the morning she threw up in class -- offers to bring her to a meeting. There, Kate meets Jenny (Octavia Spencer), an older woman whose honesty and candor appeals to Kate. "All that dumb s*** happened," Jenny assures her, "so now I'm glad it's at least entertaining." Jenny becomes Kate's sponsor, giving her life advice and perspective.

For Kate, the biggest asset is having someone who understands that she does have a problem that needs to be addressed and handled. Charlie wants to be supportive; he loves Kate but he doesn't understand why she needs AA. Her estranged mother Rochelle (Mary Kay Place) is no help either; dismissive of her accomplishments and skeptical of her sobriety, Rochelle seems fundamentally unable to be happy for Kate and the new path she is is carving for herself with AA, an organization that Rochelle blames for brainwashing Kate's father and convincing him to abandon their family.

It's to the film's credit, however, that there is no villain, no diabolical enabler that is tempting Kate to fail. Instead, Ponsoldt and Burke are compassionate to all their characters, portraying Kate's friends and family as well meaning but misguided. Rochelle loves her daughter, but remains so bitter about her husband's need to leave a toxic relationship that she can't help but see Kate's pride for her success in AA as a slap in the face. Charlie meanwhile continues to drink; he has no malice toward Kate or her decision, he is just unable or unwilling to accept how his actions may affect Kate's. Charlie works from home and comes from a family that is willing and able to support him emotionally and financially; he has not fought for his career, for his house, for his comfort the way that Kate has, and he has no frame of reference to understand how tenuous Kate's self control truly is. Frustrated that he has lost his best drinking buddy, he lashes out at Kate, calling her "a brainwashed bitch," and taking out his insecurities over their lost intimacy on her in the most counterproductive fashion. As sympathetic as he tries to be, Charlie is resentful that he is being excluded from Kate's life, not realizing that he must change with Kate in order to remain with her. "Love is the easy part," Kate tells him, "it's the rest of this s*** that's hard."

As Kate, Winstead is fantastic; she plays drunk without any affectation or buffoonery, and her conviction and fortitude are never overplayed. She is neither a hero nor a victim; instead, she is a very smart, very real person who has reached the point at which she can no longer shirk responsibility for her actions. Sober for the first time since she was in high school, Kate must go through the arduous task of rediscovering herself, and Winstead nails the mix of surprise and humility, of acceptance and of resolve that comes from honestly assessing your faults and shamelessly taking the steps to improve them. "Now that I'm not drinking," she explains, "I have all these other problems I have to deal with."

Ultimately, Smashed isn't about alcoholism as much as it is about pinpointing your preferred iteration of yourself and finding the necessary support to help manifest it. Rather than make a facile ode to AA, Ponsoldt and Burke -- with the help of a strong ensemble cast -- have instead explored the nature of support and altruism, as well as their evil twins projection and denial. Kate's family tries to help her by assuring her she doesn't have a problem, but she's smart enough to know better; it's only once she admits her failings and aligns herself with people who care enough to hold her accountable that she is able to make positive change. Jenny assures Kate, "We all carry s*** in our heads that doesn't make any sense," lies and vices that we continue to indulge against our better judgment, but "at least alcoholics have the tools to work through it." The choices Kate must make are difficult, for both her and the people she loves, but she's been down far enough to know the value of looking up.

[originally published on Considering Film]
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