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Review: 'Why Stop Now?' wastes its talented cast

Jesse Eisenberg, Melissa Leo and Tracy Morgan are trapped in a film that goes nowhere.

August 16, 2012
(IFC Films )

"Why Stop Now?" tells the story of a gifted piano prodigy named Eli who, because he's played by Jesse Eisenberg, is a walking fermata of nervousness and hyperawareness.

Eli is late to his important audition for a top conservatory for a variety of reasons that feel as if screenwriters/directors Philip Dorling and Ron Nyswaner gathered them from an audience-participation improv night — mom's going to rehab that day, his hand gets injured, there's a wacky drug dealer named Sprinkles, etc.

Despite a cast that includes including Melissa Leo in hippie-narcissist mode as the mother and Tracy Morgan working deadpan menace as Sprinkles, everything about "Why Stop Now?" feels trapped in the limbo between comedy and drama where many indies gamely venture, but from which few emerge with any resonance.

The schematic shenanigans diminish the dysfunctional family seriousness of a caring son trying to fix an addicted parent (Eisenberg is quite good in these moments), while the tidy bow-wrapping at the end seems anathema to a construct built on a day of silly disaster.

Robert Abele

"Why Stop Now?" No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 27 minutes. At Laemmle's NoHo 7, North Hollywood.

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