Film Review: Labor Day

Labor Day Header
With Labor Day, Jason Reitman has created a film that fails so hard, at almost every turn, it leaves you doubting his abilities going forward; no matter your opinion before hand.

Let’s get the good out of the way first, the film is probably Reitman’s best looking film to date. The compositions and camera feel alive in a way I don’t remember his other films accomplishing. This is all for not though, as he has lost his ability as a story teller, brings terrible characters to the screen and has gone completely tone deaf it seems.

I don’t even know where to start with Labor Day, the film is just such a gigantic misfire. So I guess we are going to have to bust out the bullets.

  • There is no sense of place. The film is supposed to take place in the late 80’s, but you would never know it outside all of the Star Wars and Spielberg references. The film’s world feels archaic and behind the times and that isn’t a good thing.
  • This is a love at first sight story and I just don’t do well with those. These characters, one of which is an escaped convict who threatens the woman’s family, somehow fall in love and it is supposed to be this grand romance of our times and they are just so perfect for each other if it wasn’t for each others’ circumstances and blegh…..
  • Plus, the relationship and representation of women is just terrible here. The message of the film is that you are a worthless woman if you can’t have children and you can only be remedied by being taken in by a manly man who will do everything for you. Good bye, feminism.
  • The idea that we are supposed to buy these two as lovers also makes no sense in the context of the film as the first, large chunk of time Josh Brolin (our convict lover) is on the screen the film’s score is pumping ominous “scary” music trying to build the tension that this is a bad guy. Then next scene we are supposed to just accept that they are going to assume he’s not that bad because he can cook? Come on. Oh yeah, the criminal cook that held the family hostage for 4 days also inspired the son to be a chef when he grows up; ugh.
  • That romance by the way, Kate Winslet (the useless divorcee) waits, like, twenty years for this guy after he is arrested and dragged away from her home. That is how AMAZING their love is supposed to be.
  • That score I mentioned above, terrible. Actually, it might not be that bad, but it so forced down your throat, telling you how to feel at every moment that I couldn’t stand it.
  • A mentally handicapped child’s disability is exploited for laughs on two occasions and his mother smacks him across the face for no good reason other than it is supposed to shock you. There is no narrative context other than the contrived notion that he might expose the family’s secret.
  • Speaking of contrivances, this film is absolutely full of them. We got to sneak out of town without anyone seeing us, OK, let’s make sure that the son delivers a letter to his Dad’s house, is stopped by a cop, the cop insists on driving him home (creepy), then gets all up in the family’s driveway for no explicable reason other than the fact that the film wanted the tension.
  • If that wasn’t enough though you will then have to endure THE MOST INTENSE CASH WITHDRAWL AT A BANK THAT HAS EVER BEEN FILMED EVER IN ALL TIME. That tension is masterfully broken by a hilarious laugh line that calls back something the criminal told the kid and everyone’s face goes from so incredibly judgmental to funniest thing I have ever heard, after an exaggerated five second like beat of silence for maximum tension. This might be one of the worst scenes I have EVER seen in a movie.
  • Don’t worry though guys. The bad guy isn’t really a bad guy. He was made a cuckold of and only accidentally killed his wife when he shoved her in anger and she broke her neck. It doesn’t help that the actress appears to throw herself face first to her death. Oh, did I mention that in his rage that they forgot about the bath they were running for their baby child, who probably isn’t his, who has now drowned out of negligence? Totally redeemable right?
  • Did I mention that the Mom who slaps around her disabled child just randomly will barge into the family’s house whenever it is necessary to create some tension in the film? Don’t worry, she does.
  • I think Jason Reitman wants to make love to a peach pie, you’ll know what I am talking about if you ever watch the film.
  • There is also this girl who is really awkward and weird who pops up at random times so the young son can have a coming of age arc that is awkwardly thrown into the story. Don’t worry, she says funny things, gives him his first kiss when he randomly leaves right in the middle of their getaway without any warning to go see her and reveal that the criminal is staying with his family. TENSION. But she kisses him and that is OK.
  • Creepy sexual fantasies with skinny dipping, underage girls, check! Fetishistic gazing over young girls bras, check!
  • A father/son epilogue shoehorned in at the last minute of the film for maximum “all the feels.” Don’t worry, this film has got you covered.

If I haven’t scared you off from seeing Labor Day, I don’t know what more I can do. It might be the worst film I saw from 2013 and one of the worst things Kate Winslet has ever done. Reitman is a director I have enjoyed every time out till now, but I think the stink of this film might be so bad it could hurt his previous films in retrospect. Terrible, terrible stuff.

Labor Day is a F

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