Win Win

Rated 4.0

Paul Giamatti plays a hard-pressed New Jersey lawyer and family man scrambling to make ends meet. To bring in a little extra cash, he sets himself up as the paid guardian of an elderly client (Burt Young) no longer able to supervise his own affairs. When the client’s runaway grandson Kyle (Alex Shaffer) suddenly turns up in town, Mike (Giamatti) and his skeptical wife (Amy Ryan) give him temporary sanctuary in their basement. By the time the kid’s wayward mother (Melanie Lynskey) shows up to belatedly claim a piece of her father’s financial pie, Kyle has started to blossom as the star of the rag-tag high school wrestling team that Mike coaches on the side. That set-up has unmistakable potential for preachy melodrama on the one hand and serio-comic romance on the other. But writer-director Thomas McCarthy’s script friskily plays against the grain of both sets of expectations. Things do get worse, but they also get better—just not quite in the ways that you would have been inclined to predict. Complications, large and small, are the key here. Pageant Theatre. Rated R