Smashed is for sure not what I expected from the title and trailer. I thought it was another handheld camera movie about cool young people getting it together in a fun way, while looking half-sad the whole time! (You know the kind!) But it turned out to be a pretty honest look at alcoholism and quarterlife crises. Who knew?!
The movie caught my eye because it stars my boyfriend, Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim), but turns out it also stars Megan Mullally (Will and Grace), Octavia Spencer (The Help), Mary Kay Place (Big Love/Bored to Death) and Nick Offerman (yeah, Ron Swanson!). I need to write this casting director a love letter because they friggin’ nailed it. Well, almost!
Smashed is about Kate, a young teacher who is a relatively-successful-for-her-age, married party girl. We’re introduced to Kate’s drinking problem right off the bat as she wakes up for work, has a beer, then some scotch in the parking lot of her elementary school, then throws up in front of her class. She lies to her class and her boss, but a coworker of hers recognizes the behaviour and suggests she come to his A.A. meeting.
This movie unexpectedly hit home for me! Alcoholism is a familiar subject to me and a lot of the behaviour and habits seemed eerily familiar. Winstead isn’t my favourite, but I think she did a pretty good job getting her head around a very complex problem. And YAY for a complex/non-stereotypical/not overly sexualized/modern leading lady character! I think some of the problems and road blocks Kate runs into can be applied to a lot of young people trying to get their shit together these days.
But the really interesting part of the story for me was the older characters, as they all had their own unique story and issues, and were played with such respect by the actors. They carried the movie, I think. Winstead couldn’t have done it on her own. The story was interesting enough, but would have been nothing without a few skilled actors to carry it.
It’s really hard to write and/or act in a film about alcoholism without getting overdramatic and sappy, but I think the filmmakers did a fairly good job. They tried to make sure all the characters (whether sober or not) were treated with honesty, and I really appreciated that.