A Little Help

She plays Laura, a dental hygienist who all but ignores her only child, Dennis (Daniel Yelsky, “Meet Monica Velour“),
with her overworked hubby (Chris O’Donnell, TV’s “NCIS: Los Angeles”),
with whom she argues who checked out of their marriage first. Doesn’t
matter, because he dies of a heart attack while on the receiving end of
oral sex, leaving Laura and Dennis high and dry.

The film is all about them coping — or not — with his death, and a sheer
inability to move on, at least with any sense of normalcy. Dennis, for
instance, tired of just being the fat kid in school, tells his
classmates his father died tragically in 9/11, and wins instant
popularity. Laura, for another, goes to work the day of her husband’s
funeral, justifying her actions because it’s “not until 3.”

Meanwhile, her sister (Brooke Smith, TV’s “Gray’s Anatomy”) pushes her
to sue for medical malpractice, and her brother-in-law (Rob Benedict,
TV’s “Head Case”) confesses he married the wrong sister, and … well,
if there’s a big swing to take at “A Little Help,” it’s that it has too
many subplots it could stand to trim. (I’d start with the one that
involves doo-wop legend Dion playing himself.) First-time feature
director Michael J. Weithorn bites off more than he can chew in his move
from a sitcom career (most recently with “The King of Queens”) to
movies; for all his ambition, he fails to reach a satisfying conclusion.

However, Fischer takes the opportunity she’s been given and seizes it.
You’ll quickly stop thinking of her as Pam, and start buying her act as a
miserable, secret-smoking, possibly alcoholic wife and mother. Again, I
believed every part of it except for that part about her husband
refusing to have sex with her with her for months because she’s
supposedly unpresentable. What is this, science fiction? —Rod

Rod Lott

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