Mike (Steve Zahn) is one of those
wandering-through-life kind of guys.
His Mom (Margo Martindale) and Dad (Fred
Ward) own and operate a small motel in
, and Mike just sort of helps out, as the handyman
and night clerk (where he sneaks cigarettes at the
counter after Mom and Dad leave for the evening).
Dad is distant, still mentally “checked
out” after returning from the war.
Mom is perceptive, encouraging her son not to
be the kind of man who just goes to the empty space
and never returns.
Mike just isn’t sure what he wants, until
he lays eyes on Sue Claussen (Jennifer Aniston), who
happens to check into the motel on a business trip.
Mike, not very socially adept, stumbles his
way into trying to meet her---he offers her a
(cheap) bottle of wine, compliments of
Sue, for her part, seems “with it,” but
also seems to not have a lot of great options in her
travels for this company that mass-produces the kind
of art that serves as decor for motel walls.
She plays solitaire on her laptop in the
turns out she does have a boyfriend, Jango (Woody
Harrelson), who’s a former
punk-rocker-turned-investor who might offer her
security, but little warmth.
Mike is just obsessed.
He spends what little cash he has trying to
be wherever she is (even if it’s
), and there’s part of her that’s off-put by his
startling presumption, and a part of her that’s
flattered by his utter devotion.
She’s so ambivalent about him that she
continues to send mixed signals, which is
occasionally confusing to him, but mostly he just
chooses to be encouraged.
As viewers, we root for them in part because
we begin to realize that at least with each other,
they might find some passion in their lives, and
maybe even some ardor:
if not happily ever after, at least some kind
of emotional connection.
He’s not exactly her idea of Mr. Right, and
with her there’s a disconnect between what she
says and what she does, as if she can’t recognize
her own feelings.
It’s a love story that’s more sputtering
than accelerating into high gear.
And though it won’t charm the socks off
you, the part of it where well-meaning, nice people
get in the way of their own happiness feels very
When have you been
“obsessed” by romance?
When has someone
pursued you but you didn’t feel the same
In the absence of
“happily ever after,” is some emotional
connection better than none?
Dr. Ronald P.
Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church,