Labor Day - directed by Jason Reitman, starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin
My proposed tagline: 98% more pie than in all other movies this year could possibly have even though it’s only January.
Oh, boy! What a movie of sensual delights rendered in PG pie form. It’s 9-1/2 Weeks for a new, conservative, gluten-fearing generation! Who needs passion when you have pie! What a delicious movie. Excuse me; I get ahead of myself. There is more to this movie than pie. Spoiler alert: there isn’t.
Poor Kate Winslet is so, so sweaty and sad because it’s Labor Day and her husband (the bald guy who dies in The Avengers, but is alive again in “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”) is spending his life with his new wife and family. All sweaty Kate has to do is swing in a hammock with her teenage son while she explains how wonderful sex is and he begs her to shut up. It’s a pretty boring and strange existence until Josh Brolin, escaped murderer (Don’t worry! Let him explain! He’s a nice murderer!) forces the family to let him stay with them and make them chili. Yes, the murderer makes them chili with coffee in it to add a depth of flavor because OH MY GOD HE IS THE BEST MARRY HIM, KATE.
So everything is great except the Tobey Maguire voice over that is the adult version of the teenage son is kind of wistful and sad about this story he’s telling about his younger days, so we know something is going to go wrong, don’t we. Tobey Maguire’s sad voice doesn’t show up for a Bildungsroman with no tragic parts, no way, no how. That would be a waste of Spiderman and that, we cannot have in this Marvel universe.
The next day, Kate comes downstairs to see Future Tobey and Josh enjoying breakfast the way a father and son should. Not like Future Tobey’s real dad who can’t fix stairs or make chili or accidentally murder his wife and go to prison for it and then escape from prison and hold a family hostage. So lame. As if the chili wasn’t a feat of almost magical Will Smith in The Legend of Bagger Vance proportions, Josh has made some kind of giant drop biscuits so amazing, Future Josh tells his mother she has to try them. When she does, well, the look she gives it worth the price of admission. That big ball of four might as well be the secret of the universe that can only be understood by eating it. MARRY HIM KATE! He makes dinner AND breakfast foods that make all your parts water!
So Kate and Josh and Future Tobey are having a great time hanging out, not going out, not having people over, sweating, and generally celebrating Labor Day the way it was meant to be celebrated, that is until a neighbor comes by to check on Kate. Oh, NO! The neighbor has brought a giant bucket of peaches for Kate! Quick thinking Future Tobey tells the neighbor his mom is taking a bath, which averts disaster momentarily, but the bigger problem is how will they eat all these delicious ripe peaches? OH GOD how will they ever eat all of these peaches before they go bad? Kate suggests they just throw them away, but Josh has another plan. He’ll give an entire baking lesson to his new fake wife and fake son then sensually squish peaches in a bowl with them. It’s like that clay scene in Ghost only stickier and with a kid there too.
Then I guess they eat the pie, but director Jason Reitman is too much of an idiot to show that part. Instead we get more shots of Kate Winslet looking frizzy and worried. Does he not understand that the core of his own film is how amazing food is? And how getting held hostage is fine as long as there is pie involved?
Pretty soon, really soon actually since almost the whole movie takes place over three days, things get more serious with Kate and Josh and they decide to run away to Canada and start a new life full of Canadian bacon scones and maple syrup custard pies. It’s Revolutionary Road crossed with Little Children, an episode of “Barefoot Contessa”, and a dusting of No Country for Old Men. It did make me want to try putting coffee in my chili, so you could say this movie has changed my life.
But I digress. Everything is going great until Future Tobey gets picked up by Dawson from “Dawson’s Creek” who is a “cop” that is “suspicious” but mostly he just wears a hat and stares at all the stuff in Kate’s car and leaves to make a pilot for USA or whatever James David Van Der Beek is doing these days. Once things start going wrong in a movie like this, you know they’re just going to go wronger. And wronger they go, indeed. The cops show up and Josh goes back to jail for 25 years. End of story.
OR IS IT? Years pass, Kate is sad and Future Tobey grows up into a different actor. Eventually actual Tobey Maguire shows up. He’s a small business owner of what? A PIE company. That’s right! That one pie making experience was so profound he decided to dedicate his life to making pie. We know this because a bunch of ladies are making pie behind him while he looks at something and acts like the boss. Life (I mean, pie) works in mysterious ways though, because the multi-page spread about Tobey’s amazing pie in, uh, Pie Aficionado Magazine catches the eye of Josh, moldering away in a prison where magazines about pies are apparently common reading material. Josh is more beardy, but just as spry as ever, so he writes Tobey a letter asking if he can contact Kate. Pie has brought them together once more if only Tobey will let it! The pie entrepreneur (piepreneur?) reads the letter in bed with his wife who we know is his wife because she has brown hair and looks worried and they are both wearing rings. Their characters are almost too interesting. So of course Tobey is fine with his mom being happy so Kate and Josh meet up and are still in love even though she has strange old person makeup on now. The movie ends with them walking out by some corn which Josh will probably shuck and grind into some amazing polenta dish.
So what is the point of this story? Love (of pie) is all you need. That which God (pie) hath joined together, let no man may put asunder. You are never alone when you have love (pie). The skill you learn when an escaped murderer stays at your house is the skill you will one day use to make a living (pie).
Why am I craving pie now?