It’s 6:36 PM
cold and snowy
Looking outside at a heavier coat of snow. Last year at this date,we were getting seriously dumped on to the tune of 9.5 inches worth of the white stuff. So while we will be having a white Christmas,it won’t as bad as last year’s.
I got a call on Sunday from my favorite video store,I had been looking for on movie in particular to on sale and on Sunday,it was priced to sell. Only they knew I was looking for it and had set aside their one copy for me. The young lady also let me know they had re-stocked from the huge Thanksgiving sale that had brought out a lot of film buffs which had depleted their stocks.
So I took a stroll on through to see what was new,buying a movie or a book blind (meaning you know nothing about it) is one of the fun parts about being a film buff.
This is how I came to buy “Just Before I Go”. Never heard of this movie but I was curious once I saw that Courtney Cox from “Scream” and “Cougar Town” fame was the director.
Between that and a pretty kick ass cast,I “took a punt” and bought it.
“Just Before I Go” is a dark comedy about a man named Ted Morgan (Seann William Scott) who is severely disillusioned by life. He works as a manager in a pet food store in Los Angeles,is just coming off a divorce to his wife whom he discovered was cheating on him.
His wife basically tells Ted that he is empty inside and she can’t live with someone like that and then she leaves.
Ted sits in his house and ponders what went wrong in his life and decides that the life he is living just doesn’t matter anymore. He is going back home,settle a few accounts and then plans to commit suicide.
He arrives at his older brother’s home. His brother,Lucky (Garret Dillahunt) is the police chief in their hometown. Lucky is married to Kathleen (Kate Walsh) and has two sons. The older son,Zeke (Kyle Gallner) is a very talented artist and Ted is impressed with his talent.
When Ted notices a deadbolt on the guest room,he asks Zeke about it. Zeke just says to make sure he locks at night,which Ted forgets to do. This triggers several issues that Ted observes about his older brother’s family. He says nothing but is pretty blown away by what he witnesses.
In terms of settling accounts,he looks up his old math teacher and finds her at a rest home. Ted marches in and proceeds to go nuclear on her. Flashbacks show the why Ted has harbored resentment for years.
This in turn gets Ted a thump on the head by the woman’s granddaughter,Greta (Olivia Thirlby). When Greta demands an explanation,Ted comes clean and tells her. Olivia decides she wants to record Ted’s journey and threatens to spill the beans if he refuses. Ted agrees and the two set off to see the next person on Ted’s list.
Meanwhile Zeke is struggling with his own identity as he discovers he has gay feelings towards a high school classmate Romeo (Evan Ross) who is openly gay. Zeke and Romeo have a secret relationship but Zeke is also friends with a group of kids who fear Romeo and harass him.
Ted decides he is going to confront his bully from school,Rowley Stansfield (Rob Riggle). He knows Rowley works at his dad’s livestock store but when Ted and Olivia see how strong Rowley is,Greta begs Ted to reconsider his actions. Flashbacks show how Rowley made Ted’s life hell. Ted then asks Rowley if he recognizes him,when he doesn’t,Ted tells him. To Ted’s great surprise,Rowley profusely apologizes to Ted for treating like a asshole. Turns out that Rowley’s father made his home life hell and he acted out at school. Rowley then introduces his son to Ted and Greta,he is a sweet boy with Down’s Syndrome. Rowley’s father barks at him to get to work,Rowley asks Ted to meet up with him later for a drink the following night.
The next day sees Greta finding Ted and asking him why he didn’t pick her up as agreed upon. Ted says it isn’t Greta’s business,she in turn calls the police department. Ted again relents and the two go meet Ted’s next person,Vickie,a pretty blonde who was kind to Ted. Vickie works at a supermarket as a cashier. Vickie (Mackenzie Marsh) spots Ted right,turns out that Vickie is married and has five kids and she is a little fluffy. But Ted doesn’t see that,only that Vickie was nice to him. Vickie and Ted arrange to meet for dinner. Ted and Greta then leave and head over over to see the grandmother again as she is lucid most in the afternoons. Sadly the grandmother has passed away,Greta and Ted walk out of the home and she takes him to a special place,a tree where Greta and her mom,who had died of cancer,had carved their names in the tree. Ted and Greta do the same…
Ted and Rowley meet for that one drink and end up getting drunk and plan to kill Rowley’s dad. Rowley then insists that Ted sock him for treating him so bad but as the two are now friends,Ted doesn’t want to. Rowley insists and instead Ted does something else (one of the funniest moments of movie).
Ted gets pulled over while driving home drunk and dropped off at Lucky’s home. Ted notices that Lucky is attracted to the female officer who brought him home.
Zeke asks to speak to Ted and shares some of more homoerotic drawings,Zeke is wrestling with his feelings and doesn’t know how to handle them Ted tries to assure Zeke that he is okay but the look on Zeke’s faces is very conflicted.
Ted and Lucky meet for lunch and when a gay waiter is nice to Ted,Lucky makes a joke of it. This angers Ted who tells Lucky that Zeke is gay and that Kathleen has some of her own issues,Lucky gets angry and leaves.
Vickie and Ted then meet for dinner where Ted just opens up and confesses he has always wondered what would have happened if Vickie and he had gotten together. This leads the two of them to sleep together and causes Vickie’s marriage to take a severe hit.
Things are starting to fall apart for Ted….everything and everyone he has touched has suffered in some way despite his best intentions. When Zeke joins the school bullies in roughing up Romeo,it all leads to a heart rending final act that will shape people’s lives forever..
What a beautifully acted film. We absolutely loved this one. Warm,moving,tragic and funny and brilliantly directed,”Just Before I Go” was an amazing find. While “Just Before I Go” isn’t Cox’s first directing effort,it is definitely her best. Having a very strong story written by the veteran David Flebotte certainly helped her. These two also worked together on the FX series “Dirt” which Coz starred in.
Where to even start in terms of praising this cast? Seann William Scott,who has worked hard to escape the “Stiffler” role in the American Pie series is so good here. Quiet,restrained Williams portrays Ted as a good person that has been beaten down in life but has not his humanity. He has a sensitive spirit and he really cares about other people yet doesn’t know how to make himself happy. He has let his childhood cripple him emotionally and has never recovered. This by far is the best role I have seen Williams in even though I have heard he is equally great in “Goon”.
Kate Walsh has the most daring role in her career here,what she did to play Kathleen is something other A-list actresses would have never have dared but Kate did. She loves her husband and is trying to wake him up to the fact that she KNOWS he has a roving eye and that she can play that game as well but doesn’t want too.
Rob Riggle was amazing as Rowley,this is the best dramatic role I have seen him play as well. While there are some funny moments with Rowley,his love for his son and still grieving for his wife comes across with real emotional depth,one could say that Riggle wasn’t acting but just being himself.
I have been a fan of Olivia Thirlby’s work since I first her in a great IFC film called “5 to 7” (of which we need to review). Why her Greta is so instantly drawn to suicidal Ted is a real mystery and one that once revealed,explains why she is trying so hard to help Ted.
Kyle Gallner and Evan Ross are wonderful as the two teens trying to figure things out,Garret Dillahunt as the stone headed Lucky is also very good. His character’s extremely narrow view of the world as a cop sadly rings a little too true and when and if he finds his family gone,would be the last one to know how it happened.
“Just Before I Go” has a run time of 91 minutes and a Director’s commentary.
The cheetah and I both gave “Just Before I Go” two thumbs/4 paws up for this film.