Please Give - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Please Give Reviews

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Super Reviewer
April 29, 2010
A deceivingly simple dramedy that's packs enough subtle, emotional complexity for multiple films. "Please Give" is a flawlessly acted showcase for one of the sweetest screenplays in recent memory. How do you NOT like this movie?
Super Reviewer
November 7, 2011
Here you have a one trick pony - something perhaps better suited as a TV sitcom... and it plays like one, sad to say. There's very little character development with each character a cardboard bit of archtype, providing very little tension as it slickly moves from predictable plot thread to predictable plot thread.

In a nutshell, you have a New York couple who deal in "reclaimed" furniture. The big secret is how they get said furniture. You see, the couple, aptly played by Platt and Keener swoop in on estate sales and the like, taking advantage of those in mourning or those just unaware; picking up prime pieces for peanuts and then later selling them at huge profits.

The one trick pony is that Keener is feeling guilty. How very un-capitalistic of her! Of course she realizes that if she and her husband weren't doing it, someone else would be (as the film shows in one of the few bright scenes, where another dealer takes advantage of Keener's feeling of guilt, getting a table for 4k which he then sells at his own shop for 7 - ain't America great?).

Thrown into the mix is the totally superfluous role of the 15 year old daughter - who has no real purpose, but somehow the director decides to make into a major character anyway (the repeated riff on the 200 buck pair of jeans is boring and repetitive - and to end the film with her receiving the holy grail attempts to give this not so subtle statement about consumerism far more weight than it should. Of course even here, the message is mixed, as it could equally be argued that you get what you pay for. After several attempts at cheaper jeans (which don't fit), the daughter finally wins out when the expensive pair fit her better - and give the daughter a much needed boost in her self esteem (ooh, another message!).

There is attempted black humor as Platt and Keener are waiting for the 90 year old woman next door to die so they can buy her apartment and tear down the walls to make their place larger. The old bag is direct to a fault, ha ha, and when you add in her two granddaughters, one a mouse who cares for grandma, and the other a shrew who predictably ends up bedding Platt, you get the kind of plotting and script that might last a full season as a "real life" sitcom. But as a feature film.... You have every right to expect more. I walked away from this film without an ounce of caring for any of the characters - the film played so trite and felt so scripted and melodramatic that I simply cannot believe all the wonderful reviews this high school play has received. Unreal and phony - if this is what "in the know" New Yorkers think is real - I'm eternally grateful I live on the opposite coast.

In over 300 films reviewed, this one ranks near the bottom - not because it's spectacularly bad, but because it pretends to be art and a look at real life - and delivers neither one.
Super Reviewer
May 1, 2011
I think that Nicole Holofcener has my kind of humor, that sort of mean-spirited, abrupt, non sequitur kind where you laugh really hard and then immediately afterward feel really bad for laughing. And I also like that there's always a tint of melancholy spotted in every stretch of dialogue, no matter what the mood. It brings you down to earth, somehow.
Super Reviewer
May 16, 2010
Delightful dark comedy by Nicole Holofcener. Please Give is so rewarding because there's real pain behind the humor. The characters are very well layered: they're not the most likeable bunch (Amanda Peet's is just plain evil), but Holofcener somehow managed to make an affecting yet enjoyable film out of these obnoxious people. As was the case with the director's previous film, Friends With Money, the cast is superb. Frequent collaborator Catherine Keener, perpetually underrated Rebecca Hall and Ann Guilbert shine.
Super Reviewer
½ March 14, 2011
This "comedy" is far from funny or interesting in any matter. The characters are boring, the plot goes nowhere at a slow pace, and I could not even finish the film before turning it off.
Super Reviewer
March 7, 2011
I lreally like Nicole Holofcener movies, but this one fell a little bit short. It was still decent and an engaging to watch, but it was missing something. It could have been so much better, in my opinion.
Super Reviewer
January 10, 2011
Disappointing within its own framework, Please Give starts out as a surprisingly funny look at privilege and "need", but the movie completely loses its footing in the second half. The characters are meant to be revealed as universally irritating, but instead they become merely repetitive, and their behavior is completely unrealistic in any context. It isn't a problem of acting, as the cast is on-point, but some of the shit that tumbles out of their mouths is just insipid. I've met some truly heinous New York hipster types in my time, believe you me, but there's no justifying the caricatures that rapidly balloon as Please Give progresses. It's as if Nicole Holofcener started out with some really great ideas for her characters, and instead of exploring or deepening these ideas she just riffs on them over and over until everyone falls apart. This could have been so much more with another draft of the screenplay and a more balanced third act, but in its current form it's just a mawkish, fitfully clever indie doomed to quick obscurity.

(Also disappointing, especially so given that it was written and directed by a woman: Oliver Platt scores Catherine Keener AND Amanda Peet. I'm sorry, what? What is it about Keener that just screams "cast me alongside a really ugly man"?)
Super Reviewer
January 16, 2011
Uneven indie emotathon which drifts along aimiably enough with distinctive performances from Peet and Steele but little conviction.
Super Reviewer
January 14, 2011
Uneven and doesn't really go anywhere. Catherine Keener is good though, and it does have some funny moments,but it just didn't work for me.
Super Reviewer
January 13, 2011
Once again, Ryan Hibbett, I must disappoint thee. I think Nicole Holofcener has ridden the white-liberal-ennui train end-to-end, all the way to the place where the trains turn around. And trust me, you don't ever want to see where the trains turn around. (A ham-handed HIMYM reference, I know.)

As with the rest of her oeuvre, Holofcener's easily hateable characters revel in the muck and mire of their own neuroses. They have too much of everything but don't do enough of anything. Unlike Lovely & Amazing and Friends With Money, however, in which rich people rising up from moneyed oppression are tangential but still poignant subplots, Please Give's entire plot is one nearly squeezed-dry lemon - recycled, reduced, and reused.

Perhaps I'm being too harsh since the two aforementioned films are such gems in my book. This film isn't terrible. Holofcener's trademark mundanities and little crimes of shame still shine through. Kate breaking down at meeting a mentally-challenged girl with her daughter's name. Alex's never-atoned-for affair with Mary.
Super Reviewer
July 15, 2010
Its a nice little lesson-movie. It has moral to it, but in the end I feel like nothing really tied together. A lot of questions about what happened with these charatters surfaced me as I walked out of this. I mean, I haven't even heard of this film until the day of. My aunt told me to come with her to the Plymouth Plantation to watch an indie film being shown. I never even got the chance to watch the trailer or know what this was about. I mean, the movie doesn't really have much of a plot.


The movie pretty much just focuses on the lives of a wife, husband, and daughter and two sisters and their grandmother who both live next door to each other in an apartment complex. Kate, her husband, and her teenage daughter look forward to the death of the Grandmother so they can make their apartment much bigger. But, one of the two sisters does whatever possible to keep her grandmother in healthy condition, while the other sister just doesn't care since she thinks her grandmother is a "bitch". The connections between these characters grow as the movie progresses and more and more drama piles up onto a table as well. It could be classified as a no-plotted "Chick-Flick".

Kate is the type of character who believes that money shouldn't go towards anything un-important. Well, thats not what her teenage daughter thinks. Her daughter wants nothing but expensive jeans and facials, but Kate believes money should go towards a better cause' like the homeless. There's one soapy problem in the movie that goes along during the film. Kate also runs a furniture store of old things that are "valuable". She takes such things and pretty much just puts price tags on them. She also faces the problem of people coming in and out of the store asking "Where'd you get this?". Kate wonders troughout the movie if other stores are going after her.

Alex is Kate's husband. Alex loves his family, but once he meets Mary, one of the two sisters [the one who thinks her Grandmother is a "Bitch"], and sorta-er falls in love. When Alex goes to get a "facial" at Mary's job, the two start an affair and Alex has trouble ending it. Mary is just the type of character who doesn't care and stalks her EX'S new girlfriends. Lets put it this way...she's a bitch. Another soapy problem.

Rebecca Hall plays Rebecca. The other sister who takes care of her Grandmother. Rebecca is so caught up in work and her grandmother that she doesn't date. Her job is giving mamograms, by the way. Her character meets a man and sorta begins a relationship. But, can she handle taking care of her grandmother and a new relationship? Soapy problem number four.

The soapy problems between all these characters piles up more and more as the movie goes on and makes the veiwers wonder: what the hell is the plot of this movie?

The reason I rated this movie so high is because of its performences and for its good dialouge. The story was too flat and there wasn't much to be found from it.

Catherine Keener and Rebecca Hall give wonderful performences in this movie, maybe even Oscar-worthy. Amanda Peet is drop-dead gorgeous in this movie, not like that makes her performence good, but based on that, I thought she was rather good. Normally, I only find her role's okay, but in this movie I seemed to really like her. She wasn't as amazing as Keener or Hall, but still, quite good.

The film's writing is rather good and the dialouge works perfectly.

This would've been a much better movie if it had two things. One: A plot. I wanted a story from this. As the movie progresses these characters have life problems and such in which they try to solve but the movie never really has a plot to give us a point. Two: A better ending. I feel as if the movie didn't end. It just cut. The movie ends with me wondering a few things and I feel like this wasn't tied up the way it should have been. With a better ending i'd give this a higher rating.

Anyways, this is a nicley acted indie-flick. Sure, the plot is somewhere hidden, but it has a nice moral about life. Rent it.
Super Reviewer
½ August 23, 2010
Good story with a new plot I hadn't seen before, there was good acting and a decent ending. Great lesson to be learned..

Two families, sort of neighbors in Manhattan, cross paths as they navigate marriage, parenthood of a teen, ennui, a first date, and end-of-life care. Rebecca and Mary are sisters; their cranky 91-year-old grandmother's neighbors, Cathy and Alex, run an upscale retro-furniture business, and will expand into her flat after she dies. Rebecca is quiet, without a boyfriend until a patient at the clinic where she works introduces her grandson. Mary is acerbic, stung by a recent breakup. Cathy looks for meaning in her life, wondering if she should volunteer. Alex, too, is at loose ends. Their daughter, Abby, has zits and teenage moods. What does it mean to be good?
Super Reviewer
November 16, 2010
"You're a really good person."

In New York City, a husband and wife butt heads with the granddaughters of the elderly woman who lives in apartment the couple owns.

Funny, touching & poignantly human comedy/drama from filmmaker Nicole Holofcener mixing the mean with the meaningful focusing on a married couple (the always magnetic Keener in arguably a career high and always watchable Platt, ditto), who run a business involving used furniture procured from the grief-stricken family members of the recently deceased elderly and their run-ins with guilt by association with fellow tenant Morgan Guilbert, a cranky senior whose apartment they covet as well. Told with clear-eyed misanthropy mixed with bittersweet loveliness the film packs an emotional wallop while pulling the heart-strings, jerking tears & tickling the funny bone. Kudos to Morgan Guilbert's oil and vinegar granddaughters, wallflower with a heart of gold Hall (who just gets better with each showcase of her talent) and bitch on wheels Peet (a surprising departure from her usual sunny dispositions); one of the year's very best.
Super Reviewer
November 11, 2010
'Please Give'. A fantastic, darkly funny dramedy with a very charming Rebecca Hall and great all round cast in general
Super Reviewer
January 5, 2010
A movie can can fail in just about everything, but still be good if it captures the right tone. In Please Give we have this trendy, ironic, satirical view of modern society that is embodied in every element of the film. Even the opening credits portray the sense that, 'oh yes, we are irreverent.' This alone could have made an great film, but it goes even further. There are not any subtleties, everything is pretty obvious, but it is still dense. I'm left with a feeling about the film's message; but it isn't something that can be summed up in a sentence. It is so much bigger and broader than that. The characters are so wonderful that they need to be unraveled. The film comes from the characters, not the other way around. Everyone is flawed, but they are all lovable. They have a humanity that many characters in film lack. Personally, I liked Rebecca Hall's character the most. She was just so sweet and pathetic - in a good way. I'm complete dork for visual flair, but I like the way this was done. LIke everything else it is very trendy and very modern. It's a very relevant, timely film. You could even say that it is moral, but without the probem of being preachy and fake.
Super Reviewer
½ October 19, 2010
A heart warming independent black comedy which is emotionaly satisfying.But not funny and smart enough to be mentioned as one of the best samples of black comedies about loneliness and depression like Sideways or Ghostworld.What prevented it from that was lots of short sequences which took away the effects of dramatic momenets and somehow made the center of the movie lost.
Super Reviewer
½ July 4, 2010
Nicole Holofcener makes the leap into full narrative form but still retaining her wonderful sense of stream of conscious storytelling. In her fourth collaboration with Catherine Keener; the pair of them tell a sweet, honest and sorrowfully funny story. Holofcener matures into a filmmaker that not only has a keen sense for humanity but also for pulling out some of the most honest work from her cast. Amanda Peet, Rebecca Hall, Ann Morgan Guilbert, Oliver Pratt and Sarah Steele are so believable in their roles, it's almost like their characters really do exist. This is a wonderful film about life's contradictions. "Please Give" is nothing but sweet, true and well made.
Super Reviewer
½ June 20, 2010
"You're a good person."

Please Give is a solid indie drama about two families: an unpleasant elderly woman and the two grown grandchildren that she raised, and a husband, wife and daughter in the apartment across the hall who have purchased the old lady's apartment with intentions or expanding their own after her death. The story deals with themes like guilt and strained family ties, but it's not overly somber or morose. There are touches of humor and levity sprinkled liberally throughout, and it's a quite pleasant film, overall.

The brightest spots of the uniformly good cast were Amanda Peet, Rebecca Hall, and Oliver Platt. All three of them made me sit up and take notice at the fine acting they were doing in roles that required some real nuance. Kudos to the whole cast, but especially those three.

I like watching movies like this from time to time, because they're not overly emotionally demanding, but they still give you more of an experience than your average action, mystery or thriller flick. Good film; recommended.
Super Reviewer
April 14, 2010
Cast: Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt, Amanda Peet, Rebecca Hall, Sarah Steele, Ann Morgan Guilbert, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Lois Smith, Josh Pais, Kevin Corrigan, Rebecca Budig

Director: Nicole Holofcener

Summary: Life gets knotty when successful Manhattan couple Alex (Oliver Platt) and Kate (Catherine Keener) develop a relationship with the granddaughters of Andra (Ann Morgan Guilbert), the cantankerous elderly woman who owns the apartment next to theirs -- and who must die so they can expand their home.

My Thoughts: "It's a character driven story which I like. Catherine Keener is a favorite of mine and I just love her in this. She has a way of always becoming any part you give her. Oliver Pratt was good in this as well and I liked him and Keener as an on screen couple. Sarah Steele plays a good bratty and moody teenage daughter. Liked her in this. My favorite character in the film was Andra. Ann Morgan Guilbert played her well. Loved all the off handed remarks she made whether it being true or just mean. Amanda Peet's character was easy to dislike. She played the part fittingly. Rebecca Hall was the quiet but sweet character. A story of how we treat each other. How judgemental and cynical we can be to our loved ones and people we barely know and yet feel sorry for those less fortunate. Definitely a film that stays true to real life. Great characters with honest performances. Worth the rental."
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