Movie review: Potboiler romance with literary trappings in ‘Labor Day’
Published: January 30, 2014 05:58PM
Updated: January 31, 2014 04:58PM
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This image released by Paramount Pictures shows Gattlin Griffith, left, Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet in a scene from "Labor Day." (AP Photo/Paramount Pictures, Dale Robinette)

Despite its literary pretensions and award-winning cast and director, “Labor Day” is a trashy, sweaty melodrama that Nicholas Sparks is sorry he didn’t write.

Writer-director Jason Reitman (“Juno,” “Up in the Air”) adapts Joyce Maynard’s tale of a late-summer weekend in 1987, seen through the eyes of 13-year-old Henry Wheeler (Gattlin Griffith), of life with his emotionally shut-in mom, Adele (Kate Winslet).

Then arrives Frank (Josh Brolin), a just-escaped convict who holes up in the Wheeler house until the heat dies down outside — though things get just as hot and steamy between Frank and the lovelorn Adele.

With mawkish narration by the adult Henry (Tobey Maguire) and romantic implausibilities that make “The Bridges of Madison County” look like gritty realism, “Labor Day” never resolves the clash between Maynard’s and Reitman’s high-mindedness and its potboiler underbelly.

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‘Labor Day’

Opens today at area theaters; rated PG-13 for thematic material, brief violence and sexuality; 111 minutes.