Piano virtuoso, Eli Bloom (Jesse Eisenberg), wants one thing out of life: for it to be normal. His mom, Penny (Melissa Leo) is a druggie. Eli has been responsible for raising his younger sister, Nicole (Emma Rayne Lyle), who has issues of her own, thanks to her mom.
Eli’s plan for the day is to drop Nicole at her day camp and then drop his mom off at rehab. She has finally agreed to get help. He’s on a very tight schedule, as he has an audition for a very exclusive music school, something he hasn’t told his mom about yet. Her four-week stint in rehab will end just before he would have to leave for school, should he get accepted.
Penny hasn’t used any drugs for a couple of weeks, so her urine is clean, according to the admitting clerk at the rehab center. The family doesn’t have any insurance. The clerk tells Penny the only way she can get in is if she can produce some “dirty urine.” He actually tells her to go get high and then come back.
Penny owes her dealers, Sparkles (Tracy Morgan) and Black (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) money, so she sends Eli to get her something. Black and Sprinkles are negotiating a deal with their supplier, Eduardo (Paul Calderon). Eduardo doesn’t speak any English. Sprinkles and Black don’t speak any Spanish. Luckily, Eli does.
Eli’s plans for the day take a major detour as he now finds himself working for Sprinkles and Black while trying to get his mom high and into rehab and make it to his audition on time. This is definitely not the normal Eli was seeking.
I knew nothing about this movie before I saw it. Honestly, I don’t know that I would have ever picked this movie. Fortunately, my wife picked it up while she was at the RedBox.
Jesse Eisenberg plays the awkward, doesn’t quite fit in kid he always plays. When you find something that works, you stick with it. He does an excellent job in this movie. Melissa Leo seems like she could be this mom in real life. And Emma Rayne Lyle seems exactly like the type of daughter you would expect in this family. I was impressed with Tracy Morgan. He didn’t play the character completely ridiculously. But he kept enough Tracy Morgan in it that you can appreciate his style of humor. And he plays well off Isiah Whitlock Jr.
It’s a story that has been used many times; the oldest offspring takes care of the family because the drugged out parent can’t, all while trying to make more of his life than what he currently has. Yet there is something new in the way the story is told. I must give a tip of the hat to the writers and directors.
It’s an offbeat comedy that will have you laughing while not losing sight of what this family is going through. Don’t let the fact that you’ve never heard of this movie scare you away from it.