Now that Aaron Paul is done with Breaking Bad and the Jesse Pinkman-for-larfs appearances on other shows have ceased, it’s time to judge his work on everything else. So far Paul’s major movies are Need for Speed (stupid but harmless and sometimes kind of fun) and Smashed (truly wonderful, though Paul is relegated to a supporting role).
Now there’s Hellion, and it’s a tried, true and ultimately tired story of a family falling apart. Mom is dead, and dad Hollis (Paul) is struggling—and failing—to keep it together.
The hellion is Jacob (Josh Wiggins), Hollis’ older son, who’s deeply angry at his father for his behavior after Mom’s death—Dad apparently contemplated suicide. It doesn’t help that Jacob is also kind of dumb, and not just in young-kid way. Would you ditch your bike in front of the police cruiser chasing you?
Hellion is aided by a restrained performance from Juliette Lewis as Jacob’s aunt, who takes in younger brother Wes (Deke Garner) when Child Protective Services discovers the boys are living in near-squalor, and not because they’re broke, but because Hollis is a jackass.
It’s hard to feel sympathy for characters who are by-the-numbers, but at least Paul can act. Wiggins’ performance wavers, as if he doesn’t buy what he’s supposed to sell. The last 20 minutes are unbelievable, and not in a good way.
Directed by Kat Candler
With Paul, Wiggins and Lewis
Jean Cocteau Cinema