Labor Day

Directed By: Jason Reitman

Starring: Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Gattlin Griffith, Tobey Maguire, and Clark Gregg

Jason Reitman's Labor Day certainly has some odd timing.  Coming out just after the Christmas season and MLK Day, a movie themed around the holiday that closes the summer just doesn't feel right.  I know that Valentine's Day is right around the corner and that romances are a dime a dozen around this time of the year.  Regardless, the timing of the movie just doesn't feel right.  That being said, Reitman and his cast have bigger problems in Labor Day, like holding my attention for the film’s duration.

Adele Wheeler (Kate Winslet) was once a woman who was in love with being in love.  Things change for her, however, after several failed pregnancies.  When husband Gerald (Clark Gregg) leaves Adele for his secretary because she's slipped into a depression, she becomes a recluse.  Living as a single mother with her 13 year-old son Henry (Gattlin Griffith), she comes out of her rural home once a month to go grocery shopping at the local PriceMart.  At the start of Labor Day weekend in 1987, it's that time of the month for Adele to go shopping with Henry.  Little does she know that she'll be bringing an escaped convict home.

Fresh from hopping out of a hospital window after an appendectomy, Frank Chambers (Josh Brolin) sees his opportunity to find temporary sanctuary when he spots Adele and Henry.  He coerces them to take him home yet promises not to hurt them.  Given that he was locked up for shoving his wife Amber (Maika Monroe) into a radiator and accidentally killing her in the midst of a heated argument, that's a bit difficult for Adele to swallow.  Strangely enough, he ends up holding his end of the "bargain".  He ties Adele up and cooks her some chili.  Eventually, he unties her and tensions subside.  As the Labor Day weekend progresses, Frank becomes less of a kidnapper and more of an actual family member.  Becoming the new love in Adele's life and a surrogate father to Henry, Frank introduces them to quite a few things, including peach pies and baseball.

I have mixed feelings about Labor Day.  With a talented cast on hand, we certainly get a sweet romance.  Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin have solid chemistry on screen as lovers.  However, the premise of the film is beyond ridiculous, and the drama is all too predictable.  Though I could get past the notion that a limping fugitive could force even Adele to take him home without a gun to her head, I couldn't get past the even more unrealistic notion that nobody locks doors in the Wheeler home even when they just happen to be harboring a fugitive.  With not one single surprise either, we can all see exactly where this movie is going from the very start.  All in all, Labor Day is a pretty flawed romantic drama that could have passed as a made-for-TV movie on Lifetime or some other channel.

There are no surprises coming in my rating of the film as it's both ill-timed and ill-conceived.  Labor Day gets a 0.09% rating.  Have a few peach martinis with this one.  You're gonna need them!