A Yale-trained actor, McCarthy turned to filmmaking in part because the types of movies he wanted to see and be a part of — genre-defying, character-driven pieces that also touch on larger themes — weren’t being made. His directorial debut, The Station Agent, which centers on a dwarf who seeks solitude in an abandoned New Jersey train station, grabbed a number of justified accolades at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival and signaled the arrival of a filmmaker who valued offbeat comedy as much as he did in telling unique stories about people struggling to create surrogate families.
McCarthy’s perceptive and unexpectedly affecting 2007 follow-up, The Visitor, hinges on the unlikely bond between an illegal immigrant and a lonely economics professor (beautifully played by Richard Jenkins).
Now comes Win Win, the genre-juggling story of Mike Flaherty (Paul Giamatti), a middling attorney in suburban New Jersey who volunteers as a high school wrestling coach when not doing his best to support his wife (Amy Ryan), young daughter and best friend (a hilarious Bobby Cannavale).
The various “special features” that accompany the DVD/Blu-ray release of the film include a pair of conversations with McCarthy and childhood buddy/Win Win co-writer Joe Tiboni, the unpretentious everyman who inspired Giamatti’s Flaherty, the type of guy whose everyday struggles are portrayed far too infrequently on the big screen. Grade: A-