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A Little Help (2011)



Average Rating: 5.8/10
Critic Reviews: 22
Fresh: 11 | Rotten: 11

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 2.8/5
User Ratings: 4,181

My Rating

Movie Info

It's a movie for everyone whose life has been thrown off-course, out of whack, or simply not turned out the way they planned it. In other words, it's a movie for everyone, period. Set in suburban Long Island in the summer of 2002, with the psychic wounds of 9/11 still fresh, A Little Help is a story that takes a comic, searching and profoundly empathetic look at a few pivotal months in the life of dental hygienist Laura Pehlke (Jenna Fischer)-an ordinary woman whose life suddenly flies off the


Drama, Comedy

Michael J. Weithorn

Oct 25, 2011


Freestyle Releasing - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (45) | Top Critics (23) | Fresh (18) | Rotten (26) | DVD (3)

The next chapter in Laura's story might be something worth rooting for, but here's hoping she has a different writer penning her lines.

August 5, 2011 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A Little Help doesn't dazzle, and you can pick at its parts, but Fischer's performance gives the movie a sense of romantic weariness that lingers. Life is a series of disasters to be weathered, no matter how cute you are.

July 29, 2011 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film suffers from an uncertain tone, playing serious situations for laughs while supplying Laura with a drinking habit and a hair-trigger temper that come across as problems rather than endearing foibles.

July 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This is one of the smarter, more honest scripts to be filmed in quite some time. And Jenna Fischer gives one of the smarter, more honest - and vulnerable, and tough - performances by an actress on the big screen in an even longer stretch.

July 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's not that Jenna Fischer is miscast in "A Little Help.'' It's that she's mis-everything else: misused, misdirected, misanthropic.

July 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

"A Little Help" settles for familiar and modest payoffs. It's not much. Yet Fischer clearly relishes the chance to play someone who's a demurely reckless mess.

July 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A misguided dopey little vanity project that's harmless, but inert.

June 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Deadspin

An odd duck of a period piece dramedy, a wonderfully detailed character-study set on Long Island a year after the 9/11 attacks."

January 14, 2013 Full Review Source: McClatchy-Tribune News Service
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

...a well-intentioned yet misguided piece of work.

November 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

Though the movie can't possibly wrap up all its dramatic threads in any realistic manner, the way it abruptly leaves off is just as dissatisfying.

October 29, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

O'Donnell's character isn't the only relative that we and Fischer's Laura come to resent (although she at least finds opportunities to sneak away for cigarette and beer breaks).

August 9, 2011 Full Review Source: Your Movies (
Your Movies (

Jenna Fischer shows off her dramatic chops but her downer film is a bit aimless.

August 5, 2011 Full Review Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer
Cleveland Plain Dealer

For a movie without much on its mind, A Little Help is impressively determined in its downward spiral, with only the minimum uplift to prevent audiences from walking straight out of the theater and into oncoming traffic.

August 4, 2011 Full Review Source: Philadelphia City Paper
Philadelphia City Paper

Despite the best efforts by Jenna Fischer playing against type as a smoking, drinking newly-single mother, A Little Help is a mess.

July 29, 2011 Full Review Source:

Sweetly cast, but the dramatic material doesn't play and the film overall never quite convincingly locates a singular tone or point of focus that would kick it up and make it recommendation-worthy.

July 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Shared Darkness
Shared Darkness

Fischer flexes real-deal acting chops as a woman who's lost control of her life, learning that when parents lie, soon kids lie too.

July 28, 2011 Full Review Source: RedEye

Fischer does her best, but she needs a little help to make all the meanness worthwhile.

July 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix

Audience Reviews for A Little Help

This movie is a little slow, but the cast is good. I always thought Fischer was easy to watch as an actress, regardless of what role she plays, and she doesn't disappoint in this one. Worth watching, but not going to win any awards.
April 10, 2012

Super Reviewer

A Little Help is what I wish I could have given to the main character, who is so trapped under the dysfunction of her family that she is wreaking havoc on herself and within her mind. I was really surprised by the level of dramatic tension and haunting dexterity of Jenna Fischer's performance. Most well known for her awkward comedy chops on the NBC show The Office, Fischer seems destined to be a dramatic indie actress. She molds this film expertly as the disheveled Laura, who goes through a life changing experience and doesn't change. Early on her husband dies, and a chain reaction is set off that ruins the life of her son, changes the attitudes of her mother, sister, and brother-in-law, and leaves her penniless and lost without hope. Throughout the film we watch Laura squirm to find some salvation, some answer to the reason why she is outcast from everyone she meets. Laura is likable in many respects, and real in her lapses in judgment and the way she lives her life. She does try to find simple comforts, or at least some escape from the bitter mourning of her husband, and the judgmental looks of her young son. Her son, by the way, was certainly the best part of the movie, as he maneuvers through life by letting his mother lean on him in times of crises, and sets her out to dry during the others. The actor in question (Daniel Yelsky) is one to watch in the coming years. Really, it's about people whose lives haven't turned out the way they wanted by simple events they can't control. It's set in 2002, a while after 9/11, which was addressed within the film. It really helps open the wounds of many characters, and shows the pink underbelly of those with little to cling to. Really, it's impressive what this film did with what it had, and was great to say the least.
March 29, 2012

Super Reviewer

Cast: Jenna Fischer, Chris O'Donnell, Rob Benedict, Kim Coates, Lesley Ann Warren, Brooke Smith, Aida Turturro, Nadia Dajani, Arden Myrin

Director: Michael J. Weithorn

Summar: "King of Queens" creator Michael J. Weithorn makes his feature-film directorial debut with this indie dramatic comedy starring Jenna Fischer ("The Office") as a recently widowed single mom. Looking for solace anywhere she can find it, Laura (Fischer) reconnects with an old beau -- perhaps not the wisest of choices, since he's also her sister's spouse.

My Thoughts: "Jenna Fischer is quite good in her role as Laura. Laura is a wife to a cheating husband, a mother to an absolute brat of a child, a daughter to an over baring mother, and a sister to Kathy who is angry and jealous of her. Laura is a mess who anyone can relate to. She finds herself in a somewhat mid-life crisis after her husband passes. I really enjoyed the movie. Rob Benedict was great as Paul as well as Daniel Yelsky as Dennis. It was a great indie dysfunctional family flick. The kind I like. It helps to remind you your family is just as insane as everyone else's and you're not alone in the dysfunction of it all. Good stuff."
November 1, 2011

Super Reviewer

Laura: YOU SUCK!

After a man (Chris O'Donnell) dies due to a panic attack caused by stress given by his "lovely" wife Laura (Jenna Fischer), this dental hygienist attempts to re-establish a sense of security and normalcy for herself and her family, and she goes to great measures to make such preposterous events happen.

Well this was clever. It's always fun being the only one in the theater (everyone else was seeing 'Drive', which is magnificent if you haven't already seen it), but also kind of sad. 'A Little Help' is criminally underrated. This gem is charming, poignant, realistic, and an all-around good time that's enjoyable for anyone who has been down in the dumps.

This is a solid transition to indie cinema for Jenna Fischer of 'The Office'. You will barely think of her role on that show once you see this. Aside from being the best, most emotionally heartfelt performance of the year; Fischer is in the run for an oscar nomination. Other performances stand out too, including Christ O'Donnell, Kim Coates, and newcomer Daniel Yelsky. An all-around terrific film.
October 2, 2011

Super Reviewer

    1. Laura: You suck!
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
    1. Laura Pehlke: Is one of your meetings at the Cherokee Hotel?
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
View all quotes (2)

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