R, 85 min.
Directors/Writers: Phil Dorling, Ron Nyswaner
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Melissa Leo, Tracy Morgan, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Sarah Ramos, Emma Rayne Lyle, Stephanie March, Tanya Wright
“Why Stop Now” is one of those movies that has all the right elements, but just doesn’t work for some reason. I can’t put my finger on just what it is that brings this movie down. Perhaps it’s a lack of passion. Perhaps it doesn’t succeed in investing us in its characters well enough. Whatever it is, there is much to appreciate here.
It follows a mother and son, who are both substance abusers, over the course of one eventful day that starts with an attempt to check the mother into a rehabilitation program. They won’t let her in because she doesn’t have insurance, but if she can produce a dirty sample of urine to prove she is using, they will. A doctor tells her off the record to go out and get high to get around the insurance issue. I find this to be a sadly plausible development and a rather funny dilemma.
The son is a gifted pianist, although his home life makes such a talent a bit of a miracle. His music teacher has scheduled an audition for a notable Boston music conservatory. Since he now must help his mother score a fix, will he be able to make his audition and will he be able to perform at peak level? I like this set up a lot.
With its laid back style and dysfunctional characters, “Why Stop Now” reminded me a great deal of the often overlooked Michael Douglas movie “Wonder Boys” in which he played a substance abusing college professor highly admired by his student despite the mess of a life he lives. What that movie has that “Why Stop Now” is lacking, I can’t say. Michael Douglas?