Movie News

Quint gets SMASHED at Sundance with Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Aaron Paul and has a great time!

Published at: Jan. 27, 2012, 4:52 p.m. CST

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with some more Sundance coverage. Next up is a flick called Smashed, starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Aaron Paul (bitch!) as a fun-loving young couple (she’s a teacher, he’s some kind of music blogger who works from home) who like to paaarrr-tay.

And by paaarrr-tay, I mean they like to get shitfaced-drunk a lot. They’re content, even happy, but as we start the story Winstead’s character is spiraling out of control; at the point where just having fun is morphing into serious addiction. Unlike her quasi-slacker hubby, she has a little more responsibility in her life, so when she goes out and gets fucked up she can’t just sleep it off the next day. She has to go teach elementary school.

Her alcoholism becomes a problem forcing her into a web of lies and some really dangerous lost nights. She hits rock bottom and ends up trying out sobriety at the behest of co-worker played by Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson himself), goes to meetings, the whole nine yards.

It’s a very after school special premise, but it’s handled with surprising care by co-writers Susan Burke and James Ponsoldt (who also directed) and with great complexity by Winstead and Paul. They’re fantastic in the movie and it’s a damn good thing they are, too, because if they weren’t then this premise could have been unbearable.

 

 

I want to give this movie an award just because it managed to be about getting sober without once becoming preachy. I don’t understand how they pulled that off, but they did.

The secret must be in how they handled the relationship between Winstead and Paul. She doesn’t get sober and then force him to quit drinking. She doesn’t judge him and he’s not resentful of her sobriety. Unfortunately that’s not exactly sustainable, but I like that they went that route instead of the typical instant horrible split you see in movies like this.

Winstead is compassionate and Paul is supportive, but both of their characters have a limit to how compassionate or supportive they can be. It becomes quite clear that Paul is easygoing, but doesn’t fully understand the reasons behind Winstead’s decision to go sober and it’s that misunderstanding that causes the big drama between them.

It’s a serious premise, but there’s a lot of humor to the movie, too. Most of that comes in to play at the AA meetings, which is where the movie needs it the most. Octavia Spencer plays Jenny, the lady who becomes Winstead’s sponsor. She’s a foul-mouthed baker that always shoots straight. I kind of wish there was more of her in the movie because every time she was on screen there was a laugh.

Speaking of laughs, there’s also some raunchy humor, particularly surrounding a scene between Nick Offerman and Winstead in a car, that is probably the funniest thing I’ve seen at Sundance. And it’s almost all sold by Offerman’s delivery and Winstead’s “did I just hear that?” silent reaction.

I gotta hand it to Winstead, too. She goes out on a limb in this movie. Playing a fun-drunk is dangerous territory. Over-the-top and just right are separated by by a line so thin it’s damn near invisible. She rides that line and does step over it a few times, but it seemed to me that when she did that it was a conscious decision made at strategic points in the story where you really needed the audience to cringe at her actions. She delivers a very believable and vulnerable performance and wasn’t afraid to let the audience see her at her worst, physically or emotionally.

Paul also deserves some credit for not making his character feel like the villain. The pair really do feel like husband and wife here and even when the fighting does come into play you never lose sight of the love they have for each other. Any cruelty between them is unconscious and immediately regretted.

Smashed is a solid drama that’s just light enough to keep it from being a chore to watch, but has a lot to say about the daily struggle of trying to become a better person. It was a pleasant surprise for me at the fest this year.

-Eric Vespe
”Quint”
quint@aintitcool.com
Follow Me On Twitter

Readers Talkback

comments powered by Disqus
    + Expand All
  • Jan. 27, 2012, 4:58 p.m. CST

    I thought Quint actaully got drunk with them.

    by Tikidonkeypunch

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 5:03 p.m. CST

    MEW is the most adorable actress working today

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    Sexy, cute, appealing and talented...the perfect woman.

  • blame the writers/director/producer, not the actors. Or the brave huskies.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 6:46 p.m. CST

    Fuckin' Freedom1234

    by Al Swearengen

    Cocksucker.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 7:37 p.m. CST

    Wow, some of these comments make 4chan look like a civilized community.

    by Craig Partain

    Thanks for the info, Quint, I look forward to seeing it.

  • Jan. 27, 2012, 10:29 p.m. CST

    by Dan

    MEW is a solid actress who has been good in every movie she has been in. No surprise that she nails a really good role like in 'Smashed'

  • Alls you gotta say to me is "it's a movie that has Mary Eliza-" "I'm watching it." That's all.

  • Jan. 28, 2012, 2:35 a.m. CST

    Twenty-first!

    by lv_426

    Suck on that bitches!!!!!!!!!!

  • Jan. 28, 2012, 10:36 a.m. CST

    How old are you lot? 12?

    by recantha

    It's a pity AICN can't be bothered to monitor or moderate their comments because over the past few months, it's been getting more and more disgusting. If someone said these things about your mother, daughter or sister, you'd hunt them down. What gives you the right to degrade another human being by casually posting up one-liners in the hope of getting attention? Actors and actresses may put themselves in the public spotlight, but most of them do it with dignity and respect for their audiences. They're just trying to make a living. So, if you can possibly restrain yourselves, perhaps you could even post up something constructive or interesting instead of the vileness that appears to be your reason for living.

  • Jan. 28, 2012, 12:08 p.m. CST

    How does this sites staff

    by Extr3m1st

    Let all this talkback crap continue? If I am an actor or actress and see that these disgusting posts are left up here all day long for others to see I never give this site the time of day.

  • Jan. 28, 2012, 2:58 p.m. CST

    So Mary Elizabeth Winstead brutally dumped both creepythinman

    by I am_NOTREAL

    and Freedom1234. Probably by text message. That's what I'm taking from this.

  • Jan. 29, 2012, 1:45 a.m. CST

    I agree with you, recantha

    by Queefer Sutherland

    I can't believe anybody here would talk about pulverizing Mary Elizabeth Winstead's pussy with their pulsating penis of passion. Why would we mention wanting to lick her tits until they become chapped, or doing her in the ass to finish her off? It's disgusting. Truly, these people are idiots. The kind of idiots who would talk about tying Mary Elizabeth Winstead to a four poster bed and making her climax over and over again until she passed out. I can't believe the idiots here. Jesus.

  • Jan. 29, 2012, 3:07 a.m. CST

    Niiiiiice.

    by recantha

    Yes, thanks for that. Though, kudos for attempt at humour.

  • Jan. 29, 2012, 8:56 p.m. CST

    Rooney Mara was in the Elm Street remake?

    by proevad

    No shit? Maybe I'll watch more than the first 5 minutes next time.

  • Jan. 29, 2012, 8:59 p.m. CST

    recantha

    by proevad

    Two of the biggest douchebags have been banned lately. Queefersutherland is the next to go. I'm always right about these things. It gets better recantha. It gets better.

  • Jan. 29, 2012, 10:42 p.m. CST

    proevad

    by Queefer Sutherland

    If you've seen some of my recent post, I have been making an attempt at times to offer something interesting and/or constructive, but this was just too good of an opportunity not to take. Sorry. But expecting cogent and insightful discussion here is pretty silly. Like any other all-inclusive forum, you will attract the lowest common denominator, as well as the rest of the spectrum. You just have to ignore people like me. But I am NOT always the troll. Still, I have no pretense, and fully admit to being a Jeckyl and Hyde, and very often a Hyde. But if I get banned, that's OK. Not like it hasn't happened before. But it doesn't get better, really. Even if I mend my ways and get to stay, there will aways be another to take my place.