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life, Ben's only comfort comes from regular chess games and friendly debates on game theory with his
Senegalese roommate Ibou (Michael Kenneth Williams). When Ibou is suddenly struck ill, Ben's pessimistic worldview seems unequivocally confirmed. It takes an extended visit from Ibou s sister Khadi (Sanaa Lathan) for Ben to realize that cynicism may be all a matter of perspective.
Top Customer Reviews
Interestingly, however, he does have friends. He participates in a weekly after-hours jam session in the back room of a music store with a small group of pals, and proves to be a decent guitarist; it makes us wonder exactly why he's squandering his talents. As the music store owner surreptitiously observes, "That's a shame, to be good at something no one cares about." His roommate Ibu (Michael K. Williams) a Senegalese immigrant, doesn't let Ben's chronic glumness dampen his perpetually sunny disposition, and considers him to be a good friend regardless. Ben does approach a state approximating enjoyment when he spends time with his precocious 11-year old daughter (Jodelle Ferland); although his negative waves are markedly straining their relationship and becoming a source of concern to Ben's ex-wife (Ally Walker).Read more ›
The movie feels very obvious in the opening sequences, yes, he's so pessimistic, no one invites him to parties because he's a Debbie Downer. He even says at one point that the two worst inventions were the TV remote and positive thinking. The movie really improves after more challenges are put into Ben's life through the absence of his friend, the introduction of a beautiful woman from Dakar, the diminishing relationship with his daughter, Sandra (Jodelle Ferland), and the loss of his job, and his attempt to sue the city for depraved indifference. Oh and not to mention, hallucinations of "The Man" (Philip Baker Hall) as an obstacle for him to mouth off to when he smokes weed. The simple life of sitting around playing chess is put on hold.
I had a hard time seeing Matthew Broderick who is excellent at oozing a positive attitude do such an about face here. It definitely plays more funny-grouchy than dark and I think that was the director's intentional choice. Everything he does still has a certain charisma, even when he's shutting others out.
Young Jodelle Ferland as his daughter was a great choice.Read more ›
In this clever Indie drama, Ben is challenged to keep a positive perspective despite the negative events that befall him. When his daughter rejects his company because of his negativity, and his Senegalese roommate falls into a Diabetic coma, Ben realizes there are more important things in life than feeling sorry for yourself and bitter with the world. He realizes that pessimism and cynicism is a form of selfishness and that he has an obligation to care and love those who care and love him. When his roommate's sister visits and stays at their apartment he begins to take a more optimistic look at life and to appreciate the positive value relationships bring to life.
A smart and uplifting film, that reminds us of Jean-Paul Sartre's quote that "freedom is what you do with what's been done to you." The film is well paced, and displays a deft balance of humor and drama. The acting is spot on with strong performances by Matthew Broderick, Michael K. Williams, and Sanaa Lathan. Overall, a great film that will leave you with memorable quotes and food for thought after you've finished watching.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
In addition to being culturally insensitive, it wasn't a good story line.Published 6 months ago by Winsome A Foderingham
It is so simple to summarize this movie because not much happens. If you watch the trailer, it shows you the entire movie. Read more
What a stinker. Even an excellent cast couldn't save this screenplay, and I like Interracial love stories. Avoid.Published 20 months ago by Sloper Dude
I enjoyed the movie. It took a while before it was available (about a day) but other than that, it was good.Published on July 15, 2013 by Brenda Anderson
I thought this movie was very thoughtful, and sensitive. I loved Matthew Broderick's gentle portrayal. The mixed cultures of black and white were great. Read morePublished on June 20, 2013 by V. Robbins
Really enjoyed this movie!!!
How a person can get so caught up in nothing but the negativity in life and never see the positive things that life has to offer,even if it's... Read more
In an age where a story is just a device to offer special effects it's hard to find character dramas where the story focuses on a small circle of characters.Published on March 20, 2013 by Amazon Customer