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DVD Review: Smashed

March 12, 2013

Smashed DVD CoverSmashed – A Sony Pictures Classics’ Release

DVD Release Date: March 12th, 2013

Rated 14A for coarse language, sexual content and substance abuse

Running time: 81 minutes

James Ponsoldt (dir.)

Susan Burke (writer)

James Ponsoldt (writer)

Andy Cabic (music)

Eric D. Johnson (music)

Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Kate Hannah

Aaron Paul as Charlie Hannah

Octavia Spencer as Jenny

Nick Offerman as Dave Davies

Our reviews below:


Smashed DVD Review By John C.

*** (out of 4)

When we first meet Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), she wakes up in a puddle of her urine, her husband Charlie (Aaron Paul) drunkenly asleep beside her.  She takes a shower, intermittently stopping to take swigs of beer.  They are both alcoholics.  After an embarrassing incident that causes her to puke in front of the class that she teaches, Kate joins Alcoholics Anonymous at the suggestion of her colleague Dave (Nick Offerman), where she gets support from her sponsor Jenny (Octavia Spencer).  But as Kate starts to move in a different direction from Charlie, a strain is put on their relationship.

Directed by James Ponsoldt, Smashed is a gritty drama about alcoholism, admirable for the way that it believably treats the characters.  Mary Elizabeth Winstead is excellent in the leading role, a performance that constantly avoids glamour for believability, and Aaron Paul is her match.  Topped off with a strong script that offers a heartbreakingly real look at addiction, Smashed is a very good little film that is well worth seeing for the performances.

The DVD includes commentary with James Ponsoldt and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, deleted scenes, a “making of” featurette as well as footage from the premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.


Smashed DVD Review By Erin V.

*** (out of 4)

Kate (Mary Elizabeth-Winstead) and Charlie (Aaron Paul) are a young married couple who have one major thing in common – they are both addicted to drinking.  At night, they spend time together at clubs, and drink throughout the day as well, constantly in a slight haze of achohol.  But when Kate gets sick in front of the Gr. 1 class she teaches, she realizes that maybe it’s time to cut back and take control of her life again.  When she goes to AA to get sober though, suddenly her relationship with Charlie becomes strained as he continues to live as per their old life while she no longer wants to drink.

The interesting thing about the portrayal of alcoholism in Smashed is that neither Kate nor Charlie are mean to each other (your typical onscreen ‘angry drunk’).  Even when she is getting sober, Charlie is trying to be supportive for her despite not being able to do the same himself.  It’s a very real portrait of alcoholism, and the strain it causes.  Both characters are not unlikable, causing you to want them to do what’s best for themselves and each other.  From beginning to the quiet ending, the film never strays from the path of reality, carried by the very strong performances here.


Smashed DVD Review By Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Smashed provides a realistic look at alcoholism, recovery and their effect on marriage.  Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Charlie (Aaron Paul) are an alcoholic couple.  Kate, a functioning alcoholic, begins to to realize she has a problem when she gets sick while teaching her Grade 1 class.  The kids think she’s pregnant, so Kate plays along, in order to keep her job.  A fellow teacher (Nick Offerman), and recovering alcoholic, notices her drinking and offers to bring her to AA.  Kate agrees, but her slow recovery puts a strain on her marriage, which is based around booze.

Smashed is well acted and believably written, and doesn’t shy away from the grittiness and filth of addiction.  The film isn’t overly gross, but keeps within a realistic level of content.  I would recommend Smashed to high school students, fans of indie film and anyone interested in issues regarding addiction and mental health.


Smashed DVD Review By Maureen

*** (out of 4)

Director James Ponsoldt’s film Smashed is an honest and realistic portrayal of the slippery slope when someone goes from social drinker to problem drinker to full blown alcoholic.  The story focuses on happily married young couple Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Charlie (Aaron Paul) who share a love of drinking.  Both are functioning alcoholics.  Kate manages to teach her grade one class, even when hungover, and Charlie manages to keep up with his freelance work as a music reviewer.

Things take a negative turn when Kate vomits in front of her young students and goes along with their confusion that she must be pregnant.  Kate’s problem continues to escalate with her drinking binges causing her to blackout and wake up in a dangerous part of town.  Scared, Kate tells Charlie that maybe things are getting out of control and maybe they should slow down the drinking a bit.

It’s only when Kate’s vice-principal, Dave (Nick Offerman) shares with her his own battle with addiction that she takes the first step in dealing with her problems.  The film shifts to the AA world and its 12 steps with a supportive member, Jenny (Octavia Spencer) helping Kate walk the walk.  At this point, Smashed becomes predictable, but we are so invested in Kate and Charlie’s lives that we continue to root for them.

What carries Smashed is the incredibly strong performance by Mary Elizabeth Winstead.  Equally strong is Aaron Paul.  There is believable chemistry between the pair and the inevitable outcome makes sense to their story.  This is a powerful indie movie that is worth seeing for the strong performances and sensitive, realistic handling of the topic of alcohol addiction.


Smashed DVD Review By Tony

***1/2 (out of 4)

Smashed begins in a wet bed where hungover Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wakes up late for work as a first grade teacher. Her marriage to stay at home freelance writer Charlie (Aaron Paul) is based on alcoholic co-dependence. An observant colleague (Nick Offerman) invites her to join a twelve step program where, sponsored by Jenny (Octavia Spencer), she finds the support to get sober, despite the risks to her relationships with a still alcoholic husband and mother (Mary Kay Place) and the consequences of being honest with a self-righteous principal (Megan Mullally).

There is nothing really new to this story. Many films such as The Lost Weekend and Days of Wine and Roses have dealt with the challenges of recovery from alcoholism. However, in just 81 minutes, Smashed manages to bring a fresh treatment to the subject that will not only be useful as a resource for support groups but also is irresistibly entertaining, largely due to Winstead’s performance. Mainly known for quirky roles in cult films such as Scott Pilgrim, she rises brilliantly to the challenge of a dramatic role in an independent film. As Kate faces all the good and bad choices in her life, we are always right there rooting for her, sharing in her joys and pain.


Consensus: Directed by James Ponsoldt, Smashed is a gritty little drama that is worth seeing for the excellent performances from Aaron Paul and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, offering a believable look at alcohol addiction.  *** (Out of 4)

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