Philip Dorling and Ron Nyswaner’s “Why Stop Now?” seems like one of lead actor Jesse Eisenberg’s occasional one-for-me performances, playing Eli, a purported piano prodigy with a cheerful but drug-addicted mother, Penny (Melissa Leo). While it shares those elements with James Toback’s coruscating gangster-sex melodrama “Fingers,” this one’s not a drama, but instead a comedy, after a fashion, with Tracy Morgan as his mother’s magical drug dealer, Sprinkles. Because of a bureaucratic rule, Eli and Sprinkles have to get Penny high one more time before she can be admitted to rehab so her urine sample is sufficiently dirty. But! Eli has a very, very, very, life-changing, very important audition he cannot miss! The performances are nearly as inauthentic as the premise, with the ever-voracious Leo chewing up not quite enough of the scenery to vanquish her scenes. Tonally, “Why Stop Now?” is a richness of embarrassments. A Sundance 2012 entry. With Isiah Whitlock Jr., Paul Calderon. 87m. (Ray Pride)
“Why Stop Now?” is now playing Facets. A trailer is below.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published soon. Previews of the project are on Twitter and on Instagram as Ghost Signs Chicago. More photography on Instagram.