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IN SHORT: strictly arthouse. [Rated . 96 minutes]
...and for those fourteen and fifteen year olds who sneak in to catch more than a peek of star Gyllenhaal in the pretty-close-to-absolute buff, we know where you're coming from and more power to you. You will, however, endure a character study so narrow that said nudity may be all you take away from it.
Heck, Cranky is pushing fifty ... and Maggie looks fine to him, but we weren't kidding when we wrote "a character study so narrow that said nudity may be all you take away from it." No, check that. You will walk away knowing, if you haven't figured it out already, that Gyllenhaal is a very gifted actress. This piece doesn't give her a character arc big enough to strut her stuff.
What it does give us is an ex-junkie, that's Gyllenhaal as Sherry Swanson, just out of a three year incarceration. More horny than in need of another fix, she gets the former taken care of fairly quickly and leaves the latter for the third act. Oops (like anyone with half an education or half a dozen years watching films can't see it coming). Estranged from her family, she is planted in a halfway house amidst a whole lot of ex-cons, at least one of which doesn't like her very much. Sherri does what she has to do to survive, which means being extra nice to a fat pervert jobs counselor even though she's found a better job than the factory gig he wants to put her in -- and attending NA meetings, where a more legitimate relationship begins with another attendee, Dean Walker (Danny Trejo).
There is the finally achieved reunion with family and the four year old daughter, Alexis (Ryan Simpkins), who has been raised by Sherri's brother Bobby (Brad Henke) and wife Lynne (Bridget Barkan). Four years being the long time that it is, the obvious delicate question that [bob] almost gets to never manages to surface in the film. Nor do the supporting characters get to argue out letting it drop. Perhaps it would have been too obvious to include, but it is logical for this reality. Pushing the pair to the side allows a relationship to slowly develop between mom and kidlet and all the little bits recede as well.
All bits reflect real life. At least the kind of real life that, and for a lot of us this is absolutely true, has little in the way of ups and downs to keep it interesting. Film gets to compress time and exaggerate circumstance and gives the audience something to take away. Sherrybaby ignores the ups and downs (even the ups have downer sides to 'em) and only provides material for film students to discuss at the espresso bar afterwards.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Sherrybaby, he would have paid . . .
Sherrybaby won't be a particularly fun rental but
a retal it is for "our" audience.
Heavy works well in homes that are happy.
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