Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Charlie (Aaron Paul) are a young married couple whose bond is built on a mutual love of music, laughter and drinking...especially the drinking. When Kate’s drinking leads her to dangerous places and her job as an elementary school teacher is put into jeopardy, she decides to join AA and get sober. Sobriety isn’t as easy as Kate had anticipated. She realizes she must face a difficult past, including a troubled relationship with her mother, (Mary Kay Place) a party girl in her own right. To cover up a drinking related incident which takes place in the classroom, Kate fabricates a story to her employer, the school principal, Patricia Barnes, (Megan Mullally) who is overly nurturing and perhaps nosy. This lie soon balloons out of control and Kate is faced with a myriad of important choices she must make. Charlie, a music writer, whose care-free demeanor hasn’t changed much since college, struggles to be supportive of Kate’s new lifestyle.
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Smashed Theatrical Review
Nicely acted the film Smashed takes you on a journey of alcoholism and denial. The movie does a good job of opening windows into the humiliating, demeaning and dire consequences of addiction to alcohol. While not a Days of Wine and Roses, the film does make good grades as an educational tool.
The movie centers on a young married couple, Charlie (Aaron Paul) and Kate Hannah (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), both addicted to alcohol. While Charlie has accepted his fate and feels he has control of his addiction, Kate's way off the radar when it comes to realizing the consequences of her actions.
We pick up the story with Kate, after a night of heavy drinking, leaving for her grade school where she's teaching. She takes a quick drink in the parking lot and goes to her classroom. While working with her 2nd grade class on spelling, she vomits in the waste basket. Confronted by a student that she must be pregnant, she uses the excuse for her behavior. When her lies start escalating to where she doesn't know right from wrong, she accepts an invitation to attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
With her life in a downward spiral Kate finds herself smoking crack with homeless people, inventing lies to avoid detection, facing embarrassment, losing her job and other demeaning affects. Mostly focusing on Kate the film digs deep into the problems created by alcohol abuse, shows how it affects the lives of the young couple and brings the dangers of drinking to the forefront.
The performances are acceptable, especially the two main characters played by Winstead and Paul who are able to get under the skin of the two alcoholics. While Paul depicts Charlie as a constant reminder of the downside of drinking creating a fun loving guy, carefree and lost in a haze of an unproductive life, Winstead's Kate becomes an example of a fight to bring oneself to reality and accept that there's more to living than binging on booze. Although I love Winstead in the role, her wardrobe was very distracting with her frumpy long dated skirts, unrealistic clothing for a night out and odd garb for a sensual relationship in the bedroom.
Smashed plays out much like a Lifetime Television movie with more of a lesson learned rather than a taught consequential drama. Crass at times, the movie becomes preachy and unemotional. I really can't feel any strong passion for either character, although I do get the point that Director James Ponsoldt intended in the film. Truly planned to be entertaining, Smashed however becomes instructional rather than inspirational.
Smashed has been rated R by the MPAA for alcohol abuse, language, some sexual content and brief drug use. Although the film doesn't shock its intended audience or depict anything new, the lessons to be learned are explicitly clear.
FINAL ANALYSIS: A good instructional film for a yielding uniformed audience. (C )
-- John Delia
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