MOVIE: STELLA'S LAST WEEKEND
STARRING: NAT WOLFF; ALEX WOLFF; POLLY DRAPER
DIRECTED BY: POLLY DRAPER
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
Stella's Last Weekend is a family film. It stars brothers Nat and Alex Wolff and is written and directed by their mother Polly Draper (Thirthysomething; Obvious Child) Oh, and did I mention, the score was done by their dad Michael Wolff. And the title character Stella, that's the family dog. So when I said family film, I mean it really involves an entire family. This might have been a reason to be weary of Stella's Last Weekend, but with honest performances from the Wolff Brother's, a top-notch script, and plenty of laughs, it makes for a pleasant and enjoyable movie experience. Stella's Last Weekend brings a talented family together and has enough heart to spread the love around.
Darling dog Stella is on her last leg of life, so mom Sally (Draper) wants son's Jack (Nat Wolff- Paper Towns; Grandma) and Oliver (Alex Wolff- Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) to spend a weekend at home for a goodbye party. It's a somber celebration to begin with, but making things even more difficult is that Jack and Oliver discover they're both interested in Violet (Paulina Singer), someone who could make these two lose the brotherly bond they have for one another. The last thing this family needs is to fall apart, but sometimes a family needs a reminder of what they have in order to realize just how special they are.
On the outside, a movie like Stella's Last Weekend looks like a small independent film, a run of the mill love triangle comedy, but it's not just for show. This family is extremely talented and their subtle, and even keeled performances prove that they're not just using this as a pet project. The brother's character's are a unique blend of a genuine connection and complimentary to one another. Alex Wolff has had a phenomenal 2018, with his breakout work in Ari Aster's shocking horror film Hereditary. Nat Wolff made a name for himself in the romantic film Paper Towns and mother Polly Draper- who has made a name for herself numerous times- is the total package. The writing in Stella's Last Weekend is sharp, the direction is on point, and her performance is the glue that holds this movie together.
The second half of Stella's Last Weekend turns into a mixture of some goofy moments- Jack and Oliver crash a snobby friends stuck-up party by making a mess of the place; Followed by the fallout of the brother's predicament- a wild fight in the back yard, and a mother attempting to reel them back in to what matters in life. The reason for the time spent together is for Stella who has brought the family together in a way they didn't realize before. At it's moral center, Stella's Last Weekend is about not letting the small stuff get in the way of the ones we love.
Are there moments where Stella's Last Weekend feels like a highlight reel to show off Alex and Nat Wolff's Hollywood charm? Yes, there are certainly too many inside jokes that clearly only they thought was funny. However, in an effort to make this a shining moment for the younger actors, surprisingly reveals, once again, the marvelous talents of Polly Draper. A movie of this stature could easily step over the line of melodramatics, feel inauthentic in all attempts of being “cool”, or just never generate laughs. Instead it is none of those things, succeeded at making me laugh, and is genuinely honest. Stella's Last Weekend may be a movie that shows off a talented family, but it's also a movie that won me over. A family film that made me happy, what lovely concept.
Written by: Leo Brady