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Win Win (2011)

tomatometer

94

Average Rating: 7.8/10
Reviews Counted: 166
Fresh: 156 | Rotten: 10

Rich, wonderful characters and strong performances populate Win Win, with writer/director Thomas McCarthy continuing to emerge as a great American humanist.

92

Average Rating: 8/10
Critic Reviews: 38
Fresh: 35 | Rotten: 3

Rich, wonderful characters and strong performances populate Win Win, with writer/director Thomas McCarthy continuing to emerge as a great American humanist.

audience

85

liked it
Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 30,902

My Rating

Movie Info

Paul Giamatti headlines writer/director Tom McCarthy's comedy drama centering on a beleaguered attorney and part-time wrestling coach who schemes to keep his practice from going under by acting as the legal caretaker of an elderly client. Mike Flaherty (Giamatti) thinks he has discovered the perfect loophole to keep his practice in business. But his brilliant plan hits an unexpected hitch when his client's troubled grandson shows up looking for a place to stay. With his home life in turmoil and

R,

Drama, Comedy

Aug 23, 2011

$10.2M

Fox Searchlight Pictures - Official Site External Icon

Watch It Now

Cast

Latest News on Win Win

September 19, 2013:
Adam Sandler Will Be The Cobbler
He's eyeing a starring role in the new drama from "Win Win" director Tom McCarthy.
June 7, 2011:
DreamWorks Buys Tom McCarthy's Home Movies
The "Win Win" writer/director plans a "supernatural family comedy."

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All Critics (166) | Top Critics (38) | Fresh (156) | Rotten (10) | DVD (9)

The rare, humanist beauty of Win Win is that none of its characters is a caricature, none of its plot twists a blatant play for tears or laughs, none of its appeal based on some mythical lowest common denominator.

July 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

What's just delightful about this wittily observed and touchingly truthful affair is the fact it offers consistently sherbety entertainment in the moment but ultimately holds to its purpose of saying something useful and genuine about real lives.

May 18, 2011 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Giamatti excels as the weak-kneed Mike, nicely working his gift for inner conflict and outer bumbling. As his wife, Amy Ryan is a ballast of unflinching moral certitude.

April 7, 2011 Full Review Source: Houston Chronicle | Comments (4)
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In the end the film stacks up just this side of twee, as the sort of quirky fare that's passably entertaining without ever offering anything real or remarkable.

April 7, 2011 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[McCarthy's] writing reflects a wariness of human nature but he's not cynical; indeed, the story wraps up with a tenderness that feels true but completely without mush.

April 4, 2011 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine | Comment (1)
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Win Win is a winner all the way.

April 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

WIN WIN makes Tom McCarthy three-for-three. Grabbing the affection from the audience is what he wants, and dear reader, he can't lose.

August 28, 2013 Full Review Source: Gordon and the Whale
Gordon and the Whale

McCarthy understands the thrill of incontrovertible victory and our primal lust for it.

June 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Film Comment Magazine
Film Comment Magazine

A thoughtful study of relationships and family dynamics, Win Win wrestles the competition to the ground.

June 2, 2013 Full Review Source: We Got This Covered
We Got This Covered

McCarthy has found his emotional sweet spot, a gentle and complex story to set it in and the perfect title for it."

January 11, 2013 Full Review Source: McClatchy-Tribune News Service
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

"Win Win" continues McCarthy's streak of bringing realistic characters and realistic situations to life on the screen. He has clearly shown his talent for writing and directing, making him one of those directors to watch out for.

September 20, 2012 Full Review Source: Examiner.com
Examiner.com

There's a real earnestness to the proceedings: if someone had relayed the setup to me via email or over cocktails, I would have bet heavily that we'd be looking at a sappy mess of clichés.

January 13, 2012 Full Review Source: Film and Felt
Film and Felt

One of the ten best films of 2011.

December 30, 2011 Full Review Source: Movie Dearest
Movie Dearest

Win Win is worth a look look. As indie dramedies go, it's a good one.

December 29, 2011 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Going down for a short count

December 24, 2011 Full Review Source: JWR

Excellent performances of good characters in a story that's not as rich as it apparently believes itself to be.

December 23, 2011 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

In Tom McCarthy's Win Win sports may seem to be the means for drama. But when considering the importance of wrestling to the characters, the sport shapes character and narrative.

December 11, 2011 Full Review Source: Film International
Film International

This combination comedy and drama works well, in part because of good performances by everyone.

December 3, 2011 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

Deftly illustrates how life is complicated and it is that rare family film that portrays life's real challenges without glossing over the complexities of relationships.

November 8, 2011 Full Review Source: Spectrum (St. George, Utah)
Spectrum (St. George, Utah)

Win Win isn't a morality play; it's just a really good story. But it does deal with an issue that couldn't be more relevant: Where do we draw the line when it comes to survival if it means clouding our sense of right and wrong?

September 2, 2011 Full Review Source: indieWIRE | Comment (1)
indieWIRE

Is there anyone who can play an "ordinary guy" better than Paul Giamatti?

August 18, 2011 Full Review Source: ABC Radio Brisbane | Comment (1)
ABC Radio Brisbane

Win Win is a warm, wonderful comedy, smartly written, full of great performances (particularly from supporting superstars Amy Ryan, Bobby Cannavale and Jeffrey Tambor) and bad haircuts (yeah, a lot of the characters have bad haircuts).

August 17, 2011 Full Review Source: Quickflix
Quickflix

Beautifully observed, this serio-comic film is the stuff of life and, despite the plot contrivances, very engaging in its quiet way.

August 17, 2011 Full Review Source: At the Movies (Australia)
At the Movies (Australia)

It's a wonderful screenplay; observant, wise and nonjudgmental, drawing out its universal relevance from an intimate and subtle story of human weakness and strength

August 13, 2011 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile | Comments (6)
Urban Cinefile

This beautifully realised independent film about winning and second chances is one of those gems that easily finds its mark

August 13, 2011 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

A decent feel-good film, but I expected more from McCarthy.

August 13, 2011 Full Review Source: Cinema Autopsy
Cinema Autopsy

Audience Reviews for Win Win

Quite a glorious little indie from the dependably insightful and naturalistic writer/director Tom McCarthy, who, like with "The Station Agent" and "The Visitor," creates another atypical leading man with mundane demons and satisfying redemptions.

Perennial loser-with-layers portrayer Paul Giamatti plays Mike, a hard-up estate lawyer who commits a bit of light fraud with a rich, demented client to pay his own crippling household debts. The old man's grandson, Kyle, shows up from the wrong side of the tracks in hopes of getting away from a druggie mother, and Mike takes him under his wing out of pity and guilt, then genuine caring, and the two strike up a bond over high school wrestling...that is until Kyle finds out about Mike's transgression.

Alex Shaffer plays the bleach blonde Kyle with reticence but manners, and Bobby Cannavale plays the gregarious overgrown Guido-type, Terry, with charming impishness. The wrestling plot is triumphant and fast-paced, and the growing affection in this unconventional family tugs at some heartstrings.

The legal subplot with Kyle's mom wanting guardianship of Leo for shady reasons is a bit convoluted and underdeveloped though; we're supposed to sympathize with Leo and Kyle who just want to be left alone in their own home, but apparently, Leo wasn't a great father and may have contributed to his daughter's drug problems. What then?
December 22, 2013
aliceinpunderland

Super Reviewer

Paul Giamatti is a superb talent that always manages to shine in his roles. Win Win is yet another one of those films that should be seen due to a great cast and wonderful story. Films like this are better than most big budget affairs because they tend to use the simplest ideas to tell a great story. The result is a movie that has some standout actors that deliver on-screen in a fun, comedic and dramatic movie that is entertaining from start to finish. The direction is great and the film's pacing is perfect with a tone goes from dramatic to comedic. Like I previously stated, Giamatti is a great actor and he delivers the standout performance of the movie that make this movie worth seeing. If you're in the mood for a well crafted drama comedy, then give this one a shot, you'll be glad you did. The film boasts a strong script that at times could have been better, but overall, the plot and acting are well rounded it out to make this an enjoyable yarn that is quite surprising. I really didn't expect much from this one, but I came out surprised. Director Tom McCarthy has crafted something special here, a movie that is fun and charming from the first frame onwards. Win Win manages to overcome its flaws due to its cast and effective directing. This is yet another great movie from Giamatti and he proves once again that he is a talented actor that can command the screen and elevate the film's material. Win Win is a great movie that you shouldn't pass up on.
July 6, 2013
TheDudeLebowski65
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

It's rare to see a film that does so much with so little. Win Win takes a typical lower-middle class family, one misunderstood teenager and a senile old man and manage to create a tale that is simultaneously heart-warming and almost scary. It highlights what humanity is willing to do to get ahead, and what they can do to repent for their mistakes no matter how grave. Basically, it's far from a win-win scenario.

That's the situation attorney and moon-lighting wrestling coach Mike Flaherty (Giamatti) finds himself when, in desperate need of cash, becomes the guardian of Leo Poplar (Young), who has started to lose his sense of reality. What he didn't foresee is that soon enough, Poplar's grandson, Kyle (Shaffer) pops up in town in need of a guardian too. At first his surly demeanor makes Mike's family's life even harder. However, when Kyle turns out to be a brilliant wrestler, everything starts improving and soon, they become a true family.

Win Win doesn't just keep it simple though. Giamatti's character is far from perfect. He's surly and desperate, most often just thinking about his own goals. And yet, you still like him. He's an everyday man trying to do what he can to get by. Giamatti once again shows his acting chops. Shaffer does a great job in portraying the brooding teen Kyle and doesn't feel like just another teen role.

The film's script and direction by Tom McCarthy are, however, what give the film the life that permeates its entirety. In particular, the conversations of the characters feel natural but often hilarious. This is a dramedy, after all, but be warned that the focus is on drama. The characters' struggles are believable and often multi-layered, and when it gets to the breaking point you feel as hopeless as Mike himself.

Win Win doesn't do much with its core narrative, and you almost feel like something a bit more could've been done to make it go on a bit longer. Regardless, Win Win is a funny, touching and clever dramedy that is among the finest films released this year.
September 15, 2012
Jon J.
Jon Johannesson

Super Reviewer

Pleasantly surprised. Not a movie I would have ever picked up, but was given a copy, so gave it a go.
I really don't like sport themed movies (or sport especially), so usually end up bored and wishing I hadn't bothered. This is about wrestling, but it's secondary to the main story. Actually a really good movie, good story about a guy who is going broke so takes on guardianship of an elderly man and winds up saddled with the grandson and ex druggie daughter as well. Really good characters and believable acting.
Ending a little too convenient, but it's a minor gripe.
August 25, 2012
romy861

Super Reviewer

    1. Stemler: I feel the force.
    – Submitted by Amir V (2 years ago)
    1. Stemler: I feel the force.
    – Submitted by Bertram K (2 years ago)
    1. Stemler: Oh SHIT it's Darth Vader!
    – Submitted by Joe C (2 years ago)
    1. Terry Delfino: They opened their kimonos, and you make them meet the train.
    – Submitted by Sean T (2 years ago)
    1. Jackie Flaherty: We have kids, Mike. I'm not taking any chances with Eminem down there.
    – Submitted by Sandro G (2 years ago)
    1. Jackie Flaherty: Kyle, We love you.
    – Submitted by Brendan M (2 years ago)
View all quotes (10)

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Foreign Titles

  • Win Win (2011) (CA)
  • Les winners (FR)
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