“Smashed” – Review by MovieManMenzel

An honest, funny, and intimate portrayal of a married couple trying to battle an addiction

Smashed tells the story of a married couple Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Charlie (Aaron Paul) who spend each and every night of their life partying and drinking it up.  One day after a wild night of partying, Kate wakes up and goes to work as she does every day at the local elementary school.  While going about her every day lessons, Kate accidentally begins to throw up right in front of her students due to the hangover from last night. This leads to her entire elementary class asking if she is sick in which Kate replies “no.” Curious children are one of her other students then proceeds to ask if she is pregnant, which with mild hesitation Kate responds “Yes.” At this moment, Kate begins to wonder what she has done and whether her heavy drinking and partying are truly affecting her life and ultimately her character. An honest and endearing film about addiction ensues…

To be 100% honest, I heard very little about Smashed before I went to see the film. I knew it opened at Sundance and was very highly received but other than that I didn’t know what to expect from this film. What I got from this film was something that I never expected. I got a film that showcased how majority of Americans live their lives each and every day. This film showcases alcoholism as a lifestyle early on and I feel that it accurately portrays a wide range of people today. There are people who work in great positions such as nursing or teaching but literally come home and do nothing other than drink. This film says something about society whether we want to admit it or not is another story in itself.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead is absolutely brilliant as Kate. She portrays this normal every day married gal perfectly. When the film first opens, you don’t see Kate as a bad person battling an addiction but rather a fun loving free spirit. She’s cute, she’s quirky and she is happy with her life. As the film progresses and you see Kate at her job, you think to yourself “wow she’s an amazing teacher.” She seems very active and involved with the children and really seems like such a great person.” However, just moments later you see Kate from a whole new perspective. She is suffering and honestly what she is suffering from is taking full control of her life.

The rest of the film shows one of the most honest and realistic portrayals of two people dealing with alcoholism. One person admitting they have a problem while the other trying to act like there isn’t one. It’s the chemistry between Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Aaron Paul that really make this story work because they are so great at playing these characters. You see them going from being completely happy and perfect for one another to something so different and raw.  This film showcases a very realistic relationship that is held together by alcoholism rather than love. Its more of less the story of two people who are truly lost in their ways and one of them realizing it and trying to make a difference.

Along with Paul and Winstead, you have two great supporting roles within the film including Nick Offerman (NBC’s Parks and Recreation) and Octavia Spencer (The Help). These characters add to the story and I must applaud the film’s writers James Ponsoldt and Susan Burke for giving these two characters some layers to them. I must admit Nick Offerman delivered one line in this film that had me laughing harder than I have laughed in a really long time. I won’t spoiler anything but let me just say that the word “moist” after seeing this film will always make me laugh.

In conclusion, Smashed is truly an indie gem. I went into this film not knowing what to expect and came out loving it. This film was touching, funny, moving and most importantly honest. It showed both the bright side and dark side of human nature and drinking. The film ends on a note that leaves you feeling hopeful yet very well aware. It’s odd how the film closes because it doesn’t quite end on a high note, but at the same time you don’t feel sad or depressed either. You feel as if you went through a real life journey with lots of bumps along the way and while this journey is over, the characters will continue on with many obstacles left to overcome.  It’s truly a must see film and I highly recommend it to all.

MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Smashed is a solid 8.5 out of 10.

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