Review: Why Stop Now
NOTE: WHY STOP NOW was originally reviewed in January when it played Sundance under the name PREDISPOSED.
PLOT: A piano prodigy (Jesse Eisenberg) must escort his junkie mother (Melissa Leo) to rehab in time for him to hit his audition for a prestigious college. Two low-level drug dealers (Tracy Morgan & Isiah Whitlock Jr.) complicate matters.
REVIEW: WHY STOP NOW is certainly a step up for the closing night slot at the Sundance Film Festival. A difficult slot to fill, two years ago, it was done away with entirely to make way for an encore screening of THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT, and last year, it was filled by the execrable FLYPAPER. Thus, I went into PREDISPOSED with low expectations, especially as this hadnt yet been shown to the press prior to the premiere.
Despite my initial reservations, Im happy to say that WHY STOP NOW was actually one of the better films Ive seen at this years Sundance, as a rock solid eighty-minute serio-comedy, featuring an absolutely commanding lead performance by Eisenberg.
Certainly, Eisenberg is playing to type here, although hes edgier than usual. His working class piano prodigy compares favourably to Jack Nicholson in FIVE EASY PIECES or Harvey Keitel in FINGERS, and while the film isnt (obviously) up to that standard- its still pretty damn good.
The relatively short running time means the film moves along at a quick clip. The premise is pretty tight, with the mom, played by Leo, being refused entry into rehab due to the fact that, thanks to her lousy insurance, she can only be admitted if shes high. With her being briefly on the wagon, its a race across the city for them to score some cocaine, but her dealer Sprinkles (Tracy Morgan) is still owed money from her last score- and presses the Spanish speaking Eisenberg into being his translator for a big drug deal with a Mexican gang that afternoon. Meanwhile, Eisenberg- whose character is a borderline alcoholic himself, and could easily sink to his moms level, needs to nail a piano audition if he ever wants to escape his moms fate. Of course, being an Eisenberg coming-of-age tale, theres a quirky love interest whos into historical re-enactments of the American revolution, which is a goofy, but sweet part of the movie.
In addition to Eisenberg, WHY STOP NOW also contains a fine performance by Oscar-winner Melissa Leo, who plays the junkie mother. The relationship between the two, with Eisenberg assuming the adult role, while shes the childish, irresponsible one is excellent- and Leo maintains our sympathy. Special note has to be made of Tracy Morgan, marking his second year in a row at Sundance (he was in last years ill-received SON OF NO ONE). WHY STOP NOW is probably the best role hes had in film, and he walks a fine line between being funny, while still allowing for touches of drama or melancholy. As his partner in crime, Whitlock Jr. is hilarious as the aptly named Black, and for once- Whitlock isnt forced to use his signature shiiiiiiiiiiiiit catchphrase, as in Spike Lees RED HOOK SUMMER- where its tacked on.
All in all, WHY STOP NOW was a great little addition to Sundance, and one that should win a lot of fans once it comes out. I had a ball with it, and its good, edgy yet entertaining fare.
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|Extra Tidbit:||Terrible new title though. Shiiiiiiit.|