Win Win (2011) - Rotten Tomatoes

Win Win (2011)



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

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 both of his careers in jeopardy, Mike quickly realizes that he'll have to get creative in order to find a way out of his current predicament. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovimore
Rating: R (for language)
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Directed By: ,
Written By: Tom McCarthy
In Theaters:
On DVD: Aug 23, 2011
Box Office: $10.1M
Fox Searchlight Pictures - Official Site


Paul Giamatti
as Mike Flaherty
Amy Ryan
as Jackie Flaherty
Bobby Cannavale
as Terry Delfino
Jeffrey Tambor
as Stephen Vigman
Burt Young
as Leo Poplar
Mike Diliello
as Jimmy Reed
Marcia Haufrecht
as Gina Flaherty
Sharon Wilkins
as Judge Lee
Tim Ransom
as Stuart Thatcher
Jacqueline Brogan
as Woman Jogging
Marceline Hugot
as Woman Jogging #2
Michael Goodwin
as Regional Ref
Earl Baker Jr.
as Staff Member
Joseph Tiboni
as Steve Deluca/Princip...
Pam Levine
as Church Soloist
Darren C. Goldstein
as Sheffield Coach
Rudy Lanzillotta II
as Kenny Randall
Christopher Lantz
as Kyle's Regional Oppo...
Ryan Arnel
as Carol's Match Oppone...
Kevin Antero
as Kyle's Match Opponen...
Chris Sarro
as Zack Lowenstein's Ma...
Dante Porrazzo
as Stemler's Match Mask...
Dariusz M. Uczkowski
as Zachary Lowenstein
Chris Federlin
as Thomlinson
Nicholas Lopez
as Anthony Pizzno
Quinn Knauer
as Kurt Vetner
Austin Ward
as Peter Molter
Delon Richards
as Dean Stol
Chris Loew
as Paul Bell, AKA Pill
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Win Win

Critic Reviews for Win Win

All Critics (170) | Top Critics (38)

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.

Full Review… | July 28, 2011
Washington Post
Top Critic

Aided by a fantastic cast, featuring the hilarious Bobby Canavale and the wonderfully strong Amy Ryan, McCarthy's film is overflowing with humour, warmth and pathos. Broad but perfectly constructed, it's a win-win situation.

Full Review… | March 11, 2016
Hot Press

In a still young movie year, Win Win is already on the mat as one of the best.

Full Review… | August 5, 2015
Playboy Online

Tom McCarthy doesn't make great movies, but he makes movies about people I enjoy spending time with.

Full Review… | May 3, 2015
Philadelphia Weekly

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.

Full Review… | August 28, 2013
Gordon and the Whale

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

Full Review… | June 20, 2013
Film Comment Magazine

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?

Alice Shen

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.

Alex roy

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.

Jon J.
Jon Johannesson

Super Reviewer

Win Win Quotes

Stemler: I feel the force.
– Submitted by Amir V (4 years ago)
Stemler: I feel the force.
– Submitted by Bertram K (4 years ago)
Stemler: Oh SHIT it's Darth Vader!
– Submitted by Joe C (4 years ago)
Terry Delfino: They opened their kimonos, and you make them meet the train.
– Submitted by Sean T (4 years ago)

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