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Plot, Details & Awards

A Little Help

Rated R for language, some sexual content and drug use.

R In Theaters 07/22/2011 , 105min.
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Plot & Details

Set in suburban Long Island in the post-9/11 summer of 2002, 'A Little Help' examines a period of chaotic and rather bizarre upheaval in the life of dental hygienist Laura Pehlke (Jenna Fischer).

Up to now Laura has had the wind at her back in life by virtue of her good looks and effortless charisma. But lately things have begun to take some dark and difficult turns. Her marriage to real estate agent Bob Pehlke (Chris O'Donnel)) has become tense and loveless -- Laura even has suspicions that he's cheating -- and her relationship with her 12-year-old son Dennis (Daniel Yelsky) has become strained as well, his emerging adolescence having turned him typically sullen and hostile. Laura has not been dealing well with all this -- she's drinking and smoking too much; her self-esteem and confidence are in free fall.

When Bob dies suddenly -- the result of a heart abnormality that goes undetected by an ER physician -- Laura is a deer in the headlights. Her intrusive mother, Joan (Lesley Ann Warren) and sister, Kathy (Brooke Smith) step in to fill the vacuum -- they pressure Laura to send Dennis to an exclusive private school, and force her to hire a ruthless lawyer, Mel Kaminsky (Kim Coates), to file a malpractice lawsuit against the doctor who misdiagnosed Bob.

As a result of these decisions, Laura soon finds herself in the middle of two huge, bizarre lies: at his new school, feeling like a loser and an outsider, Dennis impulsively tells the other kids that his father was a fireman who died in 9/11, then pleads with Laura not to tell people the truth because of the humiliation he would suffer. Laura reluctantly agrees, and soon finds herself a celebrity in the school community -- the widow of a 9/11 hero.

The second lie involves the malpractice suit, which Laura knows is based on false pretenses -- she knows that Bob didn't tell the ER doctor the truth about what he was doing when he had previous heart symptoms, because doing so would have meant revealing the affair.

As Laura struggles to stay afloat in this vortex of deception, she finds that the one person with whom she can connect and communicate is, ironically, Kathy's smart and sensitive husband, Paul (Rob Benedict). Paul had always had feelings for Laura, going back to when they were in high school together -- though at the time Laura barely knew he was alive. Now, twenty years later, their respective circumstances begin to draw them powerfully toward each other -- despite the obvious complications and dangers that this implies.

'A Little Help' is the story -- funny, touching, sad, and real -- of an ordinary person, engulfed by ordinary events, making an extraordinary emotional journey.

Seattle International Film Festival

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
2010 Seattle International Film Festival Film Presented Nominated

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