They might as well call Labor Day the Anti-Super Bowl movie.
It’s the film for people who don’t know and don’t care who Peyton Manning is.
They think a Seattle Seahawk is an extinct dinosaur or they are trying to convince everyone at your Super Bowl party that we should change the channel to The Puppy Bowl.
Kate Winslet and Gattlin Griffith star as Adele and Henry – a mother and son struggling to get by in rural New Hampshire circa 1987. Adele and Henry’s Dad (Clark Gregg) split up a few years ago, and she hasn’t really been the same since. Suffering from horrible agoraphobia and very unsettled emotionally, Adele counts on Henry to be the man of the house, but he’s a few years away from being a man.
When the two head off to the store to get some supplies for the upcoming Labor Day weekend, her fear of leaving the house becomes justified. Henry meets up with Frank (Josh Brolin) – an escaped convict on the run. Frank kidnaps the two of them and forces Adele and Henry to let him hide out in their home until he can make a getaway at nightfall.
However, this nightmare scenario isn’t quite a nightmare.
Frank fixes things up around the house.
He teaches Henry how to hit a baseball and how to identify some tools.
He looks like Josh Brolin and makes a very tasty peach pie (using peaches given to Adele by some poor schlub who doesn’t look like Josh Brolin and probably has the hots for the single mommy, which makes Frank quite the devious playa!).
Will Frank make a run for the Canadian border?
Will Adele and Henry be in danger, or will they dare to have a second helping of that tasty peach pie?
Aren’t Frank and Adele spending a little too much time alone for a kidnapper and kidnapping victim?
I don’t care how good the acting might be, and writer/director Jason Reitman could be directing the living daylights out of this movie, but I cannot get past this ridiculous, moronic, preposterous plot.
The escaped convict is a decent guy because he makes a good peach pie (and looks like Josh Brolin)?
Reitman (based on the book by Joyce Maynard) has plenty of trouble with the narrative here. Through constant flashbacks, the audience gets to learn the story behind Frank and why he was incarcerated, which gains him some sympathy with the people sitting in the theater, but Adele and Henry don’t seem to get that information, which makes it appear like Frank wins over Adele because he looks like Josh Brolin and makes a tasty peach pie. Not exactly good reasons to vote her Mother of the Year as Frank becomes some sort of surrogate father for Henry (and kind of becomes her Daddy, if you know what I mean).
Then, Labor Day never gets out of mopey mode. Supporters will call it solemn and reflective, or maybe even deep and moody, but it’s boring. All of those long, lingering scenes of Josh Brolin fondling the peaches, kneading the dough and using a rolling pin on his crust while the camera focuses in on his muscles are some sort of porn for the lovelorn (and baking fans), while Winslet is left quivering from fear and everything else she is feeling during this oddly inappropriately erotic weekend.
Are people supposed to be learning lessons about love or something? Maybe the whole movie is some subliminal advertisement for a web site that encourages ladies to become pen pals with dudes in prison?
All I know is that I will be brushing up my pie recipes.
Labor Day is rated PG-13 for thematic material, brief violence and sexuality.