Julia Louis-Dreyfus

E is for Enough Said (2013)

Divorced masseuse Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is slowly coming to terms with her daughter leaving to go to college when she meets Albert (James Gandolfini). As they’re getting to know one another she discovers that he’s her new friend and client Marianne’s (Catherine Keener) ex-husband.

Enough Said is one of those wonderfully simple but effective films that feels very real and rather cosy. With its ninety-minute runtime it develops its main characters (and its side characters) very well and shows their messy sides as well as their good sides. Enough Said could’ve been a bit trite but thanks to the performance from Louis-Dreyfus and Gandolfini and a script that knows how to balance the absurd with heartfelt moments, it really works.

Eva is a nice woman but she’s in need of connections. While it’s clear she loves her daughter and is sad about her moving away, she’s so caring that she also takes her daughter’s best friend under her wing. This causes tension between the friends, and the mothers and daughters, but Eva is a bit too oblivious to see that to begin with.

While the focus of Enough Said is the blossoming romance between Eva and Albert and how she then learns about all his negative traits from his ex-wife, it’s good that her daughter still plays a big part in her life, as does her friends (played by Toni Collette and Ben Falcone). It makes Eva feel like more of a real person with a real, lived-in life.

It’s also nice to see a story about post-divorce life and dating and all the things that come with that. Co-parenting and having to still talk to your ex even if you don’t like them anymore because of your child, and having to deal with new stepparents too. Plus, these characters have all lived a life and are at an age where romantic partners might not be the idealised versions one might dream of but that’s OK.

There’s a seen in Enough Said that reminded me of the big reveal in Crazy Stupid Love though only in the fact that a bunch of characters were finally together and secrets were revealed. In Enough Said it’s awkward and uncomfortable as they are finally on the same page and some characters are justifiably hurt. It’s not the hysterical farce of Crazy Stupid Love (which I do love and think is one of the funniest scenes on film ever) but this more understated dramatic reveal works brilliantly here.

Enough Said is the best kind of movie for grownups. It’s funny, sweet and realistic and it’s just a lovely film where the relationships are believable and the chemistry is suitably awkward yet nice. 4/5.

REVIEW: Onward (2020)

When Ian (Tom Holland) turns sixteen, his mum (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) gives him a gift left to him and his older brother Barley (Chris Pratt) by their late father. When the magic spell their dad left them goes awry, the two brothers have to go on a quest to finish the spell so they can bring him back to spend a day with him.

The world the characters inhabit is one where magical, mythical creatures have forgotten about magic, and instead have evolved to be like us, using cars and electricity and the latest gadgets. Ian and his family are elves (though to be honest I wasn’t sure what they were supposed to be until a character referred to them as elves) and there’s centaurs, ogres, pixies, unicorns and everything else you could imagine. A Manticore (voiced by Octavia Spencer) is very funny and a spin off all about her would be welcomed.

The character dynamics are good, especially the relationship between Ian and Barley. People who have a close sibling relationship, especially with an older brother, are likely to appreciate it a lot. However, when there’s conflict between them, it’s resolved very quickly, and it doesn’t leave enough time for the things they say to one another to really sink in or have much of a consequence.

However, while this pseudo-magical world is interesting, it’s not fully utilised for the first half of the film. It’s a great setting and a great what-if scenario but it’s never explored to its full potential. While naturally characters and their relationships should take priority, the world they inhabit should have more of an impact on them than this world does. The animation in Onward is beautiful and the action-packed finale is entertaining, but what got the characters to that point was a bumpy ride.

Onward is sweet and fun but it lacks both the magical spark a story like this really should have, and that spark of Pixar magic Pixar films usually have as well. 3/5.