‘Why Stop Now’ Review
You’d think that a film starring a recent Academy Award winner (Melissa Leo), one of the best young actors of his generation (Jesse Eisenberg), the biggest comic on television (Tracy Morgan) and a celebrated actor from on of TV’s best serials (‘The Wire”s Isiah Whitlock) would be a lock. But the alleged comedy ‘Why Stop Now’ is here to prove that when a movie tries really, really hard to be awful it can overcome the obstacle of having a terrific ensemble cast.
‘Why Stop Now,’ yet another aftershock in the earthquake of awful independent cinema that was ‘Little Miss Sunshine,’ serves up a second course of families driving around doing something quixotic and inadvisable. Its running time is only 90 minutes, but each one of ‘em is insufferable.
We open with a pointless framing device – Eisenberg is a pianist at a music school audition. He looks disheveled, but we have no idea just what a wacky (and ultimately life-affirming) day he’s been having. But we’re about to find out when we flash back to the morning. His little sister is talking through a sock puppet and Mom is painting a hippie mural on the wall. But it’s a big day: Mom’s got just enough time to get to rehab before Eisenberg can go in for his big tryout. After Mom kisses everyone goodbye, there’s a problem. She’s sober today! And since her urine is clean (and she has no insurance) the facility won’t take her. Uh oh! The only thing left to do is to score some cocaine, get high and reapply.
So it’s off to the part of town where there are black people. But since Mom owes Morgan and Whitlock money (yeah, the piano prodigy’s mom is in debt to coke dealers – just go with it!) Eisenberg has to make the buy himself. Eisenberg does his stammering bit and Morgan does his loud babytalk bit and its like two people doing bad impressions of these stars. Further complications arise when it is discovered that the drug dealers are. . .out of drugs! Uh oh!
So it’s off to the part of town where there are Hispanic people to make a deal. Luckily Eisenberg (an excellent student, despite being raised by a coke addict who owes money to drug dealers) speaks fluent Spanish so he’s essential. How Morgan and Whitlock normally procure their drugs without him around isn’t really gone explored.
In fact, nothing in this movie holds up to any scrutiny. Yeah, there are some good moments of comedy (I mean, this cast IS incredible) and Leo’s choice to play her criminal Mom like Dustin Hoffman in ‘Meet the Fockers,’ if nothing else, unexpected, but when the coke dealers start offering life lessons it’s hard not to start laughing derisively.
Not only is the script a joke, the ultra low budget keeps the film feeling really small, cheap looking and, frankly, unimportant. There are scenes where the driving gets erratic and everybody in the car yells, but there’s no cut to see through the windshield. That’s some student film caliber craft there.
But what’s so weird is that this movie couldn’t have been cheap. These actors don’t work for nothing. And considering how terrible the script is, I’m sure they didn’t do this as charity work. It’s a complete conundrum, but not one I’m going to spend too much time worrying about. ‘Why Stop Now’ is in theaters now.
Jordan Hoffman was the movies editor at Hearst Digital’s UGO for four years and currently contributes to SlashFilm, MTV’s NextMovie and StarTrek.com. He’s made two marginally successful independent movies, is a member of the New York Film Critics Online and was named IFC’s Ultimate Film Fanatic of the NorthEast in 2004. Follow him on Twitter at @JHoffman6.