Labor Day

Nothing against Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin and director Jason Reitman – top talents all – but my goodwill drowned while trying to swallow this treacly cocktail of romantic swill. I mean, please. Set during the 1987 Labor Day weekend in New England, the film presents Winslet's Adele as a reclusive, love-starved single mom. Her passions are reawakened when she is kidnapped by Brolin's Frank, an escaped killer. He shows her that God is in the details by tossing a ball with her 13-year-old son, Hank (Gattlin Griffith), and teaching them both how to make a peach pie (from scratch) while they hold the law at bay.

I'm not making this up. Joyce Maynard did. At 18, Maynard was the mistress of the reclusive J.D. Salinger. Draw your own conclusions. In adapting Maynard's 2009 novel, Reitman tries valiantly to close the ironic distance he showed in Thank You for Smoking, Juno, Up in the Air and Young Adult. No go. The pie looks delicious, but Labor Day feels stale.

From The Archives Issue 1202: February 13, 2014
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