“You don’t have to keep it together all the time”
Whenever you’re watching a film about youth today it’s without a doubt going to touch about how much promise they have ahead of them and how close they are to reaching that version of themselves that allows them become something truly great. That’s what this movie really means to me. In a world of college educated 20 somethings everyone’s an intellectual and looking to create, but somehow in the suburbanizing of life that’s occurred in the world in the last few decades – or so it would seem – all that “experience” that helped create the artists that we hold up in high regard today is gone and leaves everyone unsure of how to move forward in their work.
Every good work of art starts with that experience, or encounter, and that’s what this movie is. At the beginning of the film Sam (Josh Radnor) is on the train, late for a meeting, and notices a small boy who’s become separated from his family. He does what we hope all of us would do, at least initially, and takes the boy into his care to make sure that the boy doesn’t end up becoming the headline of the next day’s news. However, along his way of doing something honourable he ends up doing something ridiculously stupid, and that is becoming lazy about it all. Due to numerous factors, including the fact that he’s one of the most irresponsible near 30-year-old unsuccessful men in the world today, he ends up allowing this child to stay with him and starts to almost forget that this child is not his and will probably land him in jail; no matter how “cool” he happens to be.
The above paragraph describes a brilliant film that I can say that I would be happy to tout as the next coming of that youthful exuberance that I love to see in cinema. A character, short on experience and filled with enthusiasm to “live”, is given a chance to do something remarkably great, mucks it all up and ends up finding out something profound by the end of it all. The problem with this movie however is that it’s not just the previous paragraph, there are two to three other subplots squeezed into the film that just feel more like really long dramatic pauses than anything else. The storyline of Sam and Rasheen (Michael Algieri), and then Sam and Mississippi (Kate Mara) by association, is what really pushes the film forward. So whenever we have to stop and take a moment to try and give time to Annie (Malin Akerman), Mary (Zoe Kazan) and Charlie (Pablo Schreiber) to develop it becomes time that we’re just waiting to return to Sam’s story.
With all the above said it’s not easy to overlook this film as a really great debut for Josh Radnor, star of How I Met Your Mother, as a writer and director. While this movie doesn’t have the directorial flair that a Terrence Malick or David Fincher film would possess it still presents a competently put together story with more than a few really quotable lines of dialogue that not only possess meaning for the youth of today, but everyone.