I gravitated to Smashed because it co-stars Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad fame. I also wondered if a movie called Smashed would deliver a serious or ironic portrayal of addiction. Would it overpromise and under-deliver?
Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) oversleeps and wakes up, hung over and soaked in urine. She and husband Charlie (Aaron Paul) realize Kate has peed herself as they awake in the wet spot. Kate readies herself for work, taking a swig of beer as she showers and nipping whiskey before entering school to teach her grade schoolers, who are equally cute and aggressively nosy. When Kate suddenly pukes, missing the trash bin, her students are disturbed and horrified. They pummel her with questions, including whether she’s pregnant. To move along quickly, she affirms them but this white lie is the first complication in a series of events that stand to separate Kate from the two things she loves—her husband and drinking.
Kate and Charlie go out. They drink to excess. Kate wakes up on the street the morning after offering a stranger a ride, drunk driving and smoking crack. After another one of these nights, Kate tells Charlie she wants to slow down. This is not music to Charlie’s ears—drinking is what bonds them. She takes the advice of a fellow teacher and pal Dave Davies (Nick Offerman) and attends an AA meeting. She attempts sobriety and enlists the help of Jenny (Octavia Spencer), another AAer, who becomes her sponsor, but can she get clean and keep her husband?
I loved Smashed. I sought it out for Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad fame but the movie belongs to Winstead (a nearly unrecognizable Ramona Flowers from Scott Pilgrim). Smashed is honest, funny, sad, hopeful and sad again. Charlie and Kate’s relationship isn’t maudlin or sentimental. Megan Mullally, as Principal Barnes, in a non-comedic role takes some getting used to. For Parks & Recreation fans, we also get Offerman in a very un-Ron Swanson-like role (no whittling).
Smashed is the indie film for the addiction section of your DVD collection. It deserves a watch, two, even three. I was riveted watching a couple who are so in love with one another until one of them ends the relationship with the bottle.
Co-writer/Director: James Ponsoldt
Genre: Drama with funny moments
Run time: 82 minutes