Do you ever look at the suggestions that pop up under movies you are about to watch on Netflix? I mean, really, really look? That’s how I came upon this week’s selection. It sounded so much like a 1997 movie that was not horrible – The Ice Storm – that I decided to give it a whirl.
(I always seem to go through at least one other film before I settle on my selection for a week – so I will say be thankful that Wetlands didn’t win this week.)
The Playroom was released in 2012, and stars….well, no one I had ever heard of except for the male lead looked kind of familiar. Turns out he was Kenny Powers’ brother in Eastbound & Down. Win!
The film is set in the 70s and is awash with cigarettes and polyester. It opens with a group of kids sitting around telling a bedtime story – they take turns with the story, about a group of children who ran away and had no parents. I was all set to settle into these kids and why they were sitting in the dark, and then they were suddenly arriving home from school and the big sister was sneaking birth control.
It took me a little while to realize that the plot and storyline I was looking for was really not there. This film was more of a character study – a look at Maggie, the oldest daughter who is largely in charge of her 3 younger siblings, and her parents who exist at the edge of the story, drinking out of tumblers and inviting friends for games.
Maggie and her siblings seem to hover in their attic playroom, periodically peeping into the closed world that develops during this particular evening of their parents’ lives.
As a character driven story – this was actually intriguing. I remember watching films like this and sympathizing with only the kids, but I suppose it is a testament to being old that I now can see both sides of the situation. It made for a very, very interesting watch.
Oddly, though, I don’t really know whether I recommend watching this movie or not.
If you – like me – watched and enjoyed The Ice Storm, or even something more mainstream like American Beauty, then you would probably enjoy The Playroom. It was realistic and sometimes bleak, but somehow compelling. If you’re looking for happy endings and fart gags, well….maybe next week you’ll get lucky.
Listen to our latest podcast; it’s all about voice actors! Listen to the episode here!
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