LABOR DAY (2014)


Starring: Josh Brolin, Kate Winslet, Gattlin Griffith, Tobey Maguire, Clark Gregg, James Van Der Beek, J.K. Simmons

Directed by: Jason Reitman

Synopsis: Depressed single mom Adele and her son Henry offer a wounded, fearsome man a ride. As police search town for the escaped convict, the mother and son gradually learn his true story as their options become increasingly limited.

Labor Day, whilst being extremely normal, is also pretty strange at the same time. Perhaps the strangest thing about the film is how Jason Reitman, director of the likes of Juno and Up In The Air, came to direct it. This film is certainly a departure from the type of cynical but likeable indie movies Reitman makes.

It is based on a book by Joyce Maynard, and is the story of a lonely single mum (Winslet) and her son (Griffith) being held captive by an ex-con on the run (Brolin). Except, the ex-con, Frank, is really rather nice. So nice in fact that the mum, Adele, falls in love with him.

The reason the film is strange is, as most reviewers have pointed out, the rather odd moments featuring Frank as convict-turned-domestic goddess. He fixes cars and walls, cleans gutters, waxes floors and, to top all that off, he’s a mighty fine chef too! He cooks dinner from scratch, and make darn fine Peach Cobbler as well. In fact, if you asked me who the main character in this story is, I would skip Winslet and Brolin and say Peach Cobbler. It crops up all over the place! Like I said, strange!

The film as a whole is pretty weak. The romance side of it I just didn’t buy into at all (I mean, everything in the film happened in three days)! The performances were fine, including that of Henry, Adele’s young son, but to be honest, if the film had any good bits, they didn’t show up until well past the hour mark, by which time I had already made my mind up that this was a bit of a turkey. Which is a shame because I have loved all of Reitman’s films up to this point.

I think I can see what Reitman was trying to do with the film. It had the look and feel at times of some sort of rites of passage eighties flick like Stand By Me, but ultimately it was let down by far to many cringe inducing moments.

2 clappers

About thomasjford

I like Movies and Music and most things popular culture.


  1. Good review. I get what Reitman was trying to do here, but I think it was more of a step in the wrong decision than anything else. Still, it’s worth seeing for the performances alone.

    • Thanks for reading Dan. I too can see what Reitman was looking to do, I think, but alas I don’t think he got any where near pulling it off.

  2. Great review, Tom! The plot somehow rings a bell. I must have seen a similar film at one time.
    The basic ideas often may be promising, sometimes they get lost on the way of producing…

  3. Darn it! I really wanted to see this one, now I’m not so sure. I guess I’ll just wait for netflix/rental/nothing better to do on a Friday night.

    • That’s what I would recommend. If you are a fan of Reitmans films, you will find yourself surprised that he directed this. It’s a real change.

  4. Man, what a disappointment… I loved Jason Reitman’s other films. But I avoided seeing this one. Sounds waaaaay too similar to Revolutionary Road and also this bizarre little movie that I watched at one point but can’t for the life of me remember the name of… aargh, this is really irritating!

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