An embarrassingly-bad flick created by writer/director/actress Helen Hunt. She must have an Army of Yes Peeps telling her she’s a Silver Screen genius. The character played by Luke Wilson brings some levity to the script, but even his aging beach boy charm can’t make a dent in the titanium wall of bad dialogue, contrived conflicts, and poor casting. Here are some holes in the writing/casting/etc:
1. Wouldn’t the Luke Wilson character have a girlfriend? He must meet lots of women since he’s a surf instructor. But oh no, he’s waiting for Ms. Right–an uptight New York editor who looks like she could be his uncle when her hair is wet. Yes, worth waiting for.
2. What’s with holding back on the big secret of the dead first son? Except for a few confusing early shots, no attempt is made to add that to the psychological makeup of the main character. Super confusing when the adults have that fight that feels forced at the ex’s house.
3. The dude playing the son has no acting ability. He’s wooden and a bore. He brings nothing to the film with his pouty entitled persona and we know nothing of his ability to write except his submission to an obscure online literary magazine. The character shouldn’t have been given so much by lawnmower parents–car, surfboard, tuition payment to NYU, etc. He makes a feeble attempt at finding a job but we never see him working. Then he develops a nonsense man crush on an aging writer selling crack for a living, all without reading a single word the crush wrote. I mean, if you were crushing wouldn’t you want to read his work? Helen Hunt won’t go here because she and her wordsmith staff can’t write much that is meaningful and poignant.
4. For a surf instructor, the Luke Wilson character lacks a basic knowledge of surfing. First thing I would have told Helen is to put her weight near the top of the board when going through waves to prevent the board from flying up and smashing her face.
5. On a positive note, the montage of shots showing Helen struggling to surf was quite terrific. Well done.
6. The scattering of ashes scene makes the main character look as though she’s polluting the ocean. I would never film ash clouds tainting the water from an underwater camera. What was Helen thinking? Also, what did she do with the pouch containing the ashes? Throw it in the ocean? More pollution.
7. The cerebral banter between mother and son is like listening to fingernails dragging a chalkboard. This conflict chat makes me question the closing scene of Act 2, where they surf together and all wounds are apparently healed or there is an element of forgiveness. That scene is unearned. Why? You can’t have two people battling each other all film long and then suddenly become best buds.
8. The chance meetings of mother and son in expansive LA is forced and not believable. I mean, once maybe but over and over? What was Helen thinking?