Always nice to enjoy a little comfort-food movie in which almost nothing surprising or particularly fresh happens, but we’re happy to spend time with the characters and we wish them the best as the credits roll.
In this case the film is “Break Point,” one of those “in theaters and on demand” movies, and though I often advocate for seeing films the way they’re meant to be seen, i.e., GET OUT OF THE HOUSE AND GO TO THE DANG THEATER AND DON’T TELL ME THE MOVIE IS JUST AS GOOD WHEN YOU WATCH IT ON YOUR IPAD, this is indeed the kind of story that’ll play just fine on your living room TV.
Jeremy Sisto, one of those go-to, steady working actors who’s always interesting and deserves more high-profile roles, delivers a laid-back, effortlessly funny performance as Jimmy, a 35-year-old tennis bum who frittered away his career with reckless play on the court and a hedonistic lifestyle outside the lines. Jimmy seems to be the last one to realize he’s become something of a joke.
David Walton has the straight man part and does fine work as Jimmy’s brother and former doubles partner Darren, a conservative player on and off the court who was crushed when Jimmy dropped him 15 years previous for a seemingly more talented partner.
When Jimmy decides to get serious and make one last run at playing in “The Open,” he has to talk the understandably reluctant Darren into joining him — and off we go. It’s basically a toned-down “Tin Cup” for tennis.
Who else but J.K. Simmons to play the boys’ father, a deadpan wisecracker of a veterinarian who is troubled by the estranged relationship between his sons, but not to the point where he’s going to take a break from treating all manner of animals with the assistance of the fetching and wonderful Heather (Amy Smart), and if you think of one of the brothers has long carried a torch for Heather, well you’re up 30-love already.
We also get an “About a Boy” element, with Josh Rush charming it up all over the place as Barry, a precocious outcast who dresses like an early 19th century presidential candidate and considers Darren to be his best buddy because Darren was his substitute teacher. Any time there’s a movie or a TV show about a grown man who’s friends with a boy who’s not his relative, there’s a risk of uncomfortable weirdness — but director Karas and the team of writers (including Sisto, who has a story credit) deftly handle the material. Darren becomes a genuine father figure to the kid (who of course has an absentee father), and Jimmy doles out some priceless, blunt life advice.
They make a great team.
Broad Green Pictures presents a film directed by Jay Karas and written by Gene Hong and Jeremy Sisto. Running time: 90 minutes. Rated R (for language and sexual references). Available on demand and opening Friday at AMC Loews Streets of Woodfield.