Even the best filmmakers have the odd dud, and beloved director Jason Reitman has been refreshingly frank about one of his films that didn’t catch on.
Following gushing praise for “Juno” and “Up In The Air,” Reitman’s “Young Adult” flopped but still earned some critical praise. It was the film after that though, the Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet-led “Labor Day,” that failed to find attention and interest from both audiences and critics.
Appearing at the Toronto Film Festival to promote his new film “Men, Women & Children,” Reitman talked with Screen Crush and the conversation turned towards public perception of actors (specifically Adam Sandler) “phoning in” performances. He equates that perception with the reaction to “Labor Day”:
“It’s a misnomer to think that from within he is losing interest or gaining interest. You’re always trying. And I say that sensitively, because I can imagine someone looking at ‘Labor Day’ and going, ‘Remember when he f–king gave up?’…
I think it’s an easy thing to look at from the outside and go, ‘Oh, I just thought I’d phone one in.’ Or, ‘Oh, I just thought I’d make a studio movie.’ And it’s like, ‘No, I worked so f–king hard and I thought I was making something truly great.’ And then, for whatever reason, it doesn’t land.”
He was then asked how the failure of “Labor Day” was for him:
“It’s sh–ty as hell. It’s totally sh–ty. I mean, I was proud of my Tomato Rating and, yeah, it sucked … I’ve done more work on that movie than I’ve ever done on a movie. I’m proud of it. And then it doesn’t land and then you realize, oh, this was a misguided effort, for whatever reason.
My dad said something so smart to me. He does all the time, but he said, ‘I was watching ‘Labor Day’ again, it just struck me all of a sudden that you weren’t making a movie about a man and a women, you were making a movie about a kid’… and Paramount marketed a movie about a man and a woman and everyone wrote about a movie about a man and a woman and it all became this kind of romance.
And he said, ‘You really didn’t care about the romance, did you?’ And I said, ‘No, the romance really was a B plotline to this kid.’ So, if I somehow would have focused the movie on the kid? I don’t know. When a band plays a song outside of their genre, there’s a bit of, ‘Can you please go back to playing the songs we like?'”