A Little Help (2010) – Review

2 Stars

A Little Help is the story of a recent widow who gets entangled in a series of lies to help herself and her twelve year old son. Laura (Jenna Fischer) has a burned out marriage and to make matters worse she’s pretty sure her husband, Bob (Chris O’Donnell), is cheating on her. Their son, Dennis (Daniel Yelsky), is distant and pushes Laura away. She moves on with her life, pretending everything’s ok. But one afternoon during a family get together she lets loose on Bob and accuses him of adultery. While chasing after her something happens with his heart, but he is given a clean bill of health by their doctor. Later that night Laura makes up with Bob, but his heart issue pops up again, this time for the last time. Now everything Laura has been sweeping under the rug is being forced out into the open. Her family pressures her into a malpractice lawsuit where Bob’s infidelity plays a major role. Her son tells a lie at his new school about his father dying as a fireman in the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. She goes along with it, maybe in the hopes of winning him over, but mostly because she’s a pushover and has been throughout her life. Once the lies start coming undone can Laura and her son withstand the results?

The film tries too hard. It wants so desperately to be an indie darling that it emulates the look and feel of the packaging, but misses completely on the content. Jenna Fischer’s character mopes around the entire movie and acts as a punching bag for the others. She is never empowered and nothing seems to exact any amount of change out of her. There’s a lot of fighting and screaming that go nowhere, which doesn’t matter anyhow as there’s little to be invested in on either side of the arguing. We’re simply not giving anything or anyone to care about here. Bob doesn’t even die until twenty minutes in, I suppose this is an attempt at showing us what a crappy marriage they had before, but I’m not sure anything really changed for Laura after his demise. He was vacant from both her and Dennis’ lives for the most part.

The most interesting scenes are with the characters surrounding Laura. Rob Benedict gives a great performance as the most likable character, Paul, Laura’s brother-in-law and quasi love interest. Even the slimy lawyer that represents Laura in the malpractice suit is more interesting. With Michael J. Weithorn (King of Queens creator) at the helm both writing and directing I had hopes that this would be a little funnier and a lot more touching. As it stands I could have used A Little Help getting through this snoozefest. The actors aren’t given enough material to sink their teeth into and the film seems to wander aimlessly without merit. If you want to see a film that wanders aimlessly with merit, check out Hesher, which is the level I think A Little Help tried to aspire to.

Director: Michael J. Weithorn
Stars: Jenna Fischer, Chris O’Donnell, Daniel Yelsky

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