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The story of Eli Smith (Jesse Eisenberg), a piano prodigy, dealing with his troubled mother, Penny (Melissa Leo), and enlisting help from a hapless drug dealer, Sprinkles (Tracy Morgan), on the day he has an audition for a prestigious music program. Events spiral comically out of control as this gang of misfits faces the mistakes of the past, the challenges of the future, and the possibilities of love.Written by
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Tracy Morgan uses a cane in this film, although it was made several years before his debilitating accident. See more »
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Full of comedic mishaps but strikes a decent balance of drama and comedy
"Why Stop Now" asks the question how far would you go to get into rehab? Eli (Jesse Eisenberg) is a smart kid, a piano prodigy, and is desperate to get his mother into rehab. His mother (Melissa Leo) is an annoying, high-strung coke-addict who has to go to rehab now or else Eli will never get to live his own life. The various plot descriptions available all get the rehab misunderstanding wrong, but it doesn't matter, it's ridiculous either way.
Presumably a comedy, the movie goes to great lengths to create a story full of comedic mishaps. Most of them, especially the rehab misunderstanding, aren't funny enough and belong in a worse movie. Because the thing is this movie could be more aptly described as a bittersweet drama-comedy and the travails that Eli has to go through are actually pretty touching.
Jesse Eisenberg is a really good actor. Prior to "The Social Network" (2010), I didn't really believe he was good (probably because of unfair superficial assumptions placed on him), but he may very well have mastered the drama-comedy balance. The script goes to extremes in manufacturing obstacles and misplaced hilarity. Melissa Leo takes on those extremes with her high-pitched self-righteous prattle and we wish she was locked in rehab at the very beginning. Tracy Morgan, surprisingly, plays his role more subdued than he has probably ever been before and the result is a drug dealer that doesn't produce any laughs.
Eisenberg is able to make a couple of scenes very funny. In one, he acts as a Spanish translator for one drug dealer to another and finds an amusing balance between his book smarts and street smarts. In a later scene, he explains the difference between a pain in the ass and a pretentious pain in the ass to two high-strung screaming sisters. I'm thankful when he raises his voice to get them to shut-up.
The mostly classical music score provides an interesting juxtaposition to the drug-fuelled comedy, but I'm not sure who "Why Stop Now" is supposed to appeal to. It doesn't have the same energy and comedy that popular releases "Horrible Bosses" and "21 Jump Street" have. But the bittersweet journey and the accomplishments by one actor in particular makes this a somewhat enjoyable and, thankfully, short ride.
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