Review: Sex, Death and Bowling

Daniel Hugh Kelly, Adrian Grenier and Joshua Rush in Sex, Death and Bowling

Sex, Death and Bowling is the best movie I’ve seen in a long time. It’s the writing and directing debut of actress Ally Walker. If she managed a tale this well told with her first effort, then bring it on, Ally Walker.

The story is about Rick McAllister (Bailey Chase) dying of cancer. His son, wife, brother, father and his friends are there with him. That explains the death part of the title.

Much of the story is told through Rick’s son Eli’s (Joshua Rush) eyes. Eli’s a brilliant 6th grader. He’s on the small side. He takes a lot of bullying at school.

Eli visits various local religious leaders with his unanswerable existential questions about life and death. The only false note in the entire film was the last few seconds when the narration from Eli got a bit heavy handed and moralistic. Until that small complaint, it was all golden.

Eli promised his dad that the McAllister Sporting Goods team would bring home the trophy in the local bowling tournament again this year. Hence, the bowling part of the title. The family history involves a lot of lore around great bowlers. But Rick is in home hospice care doped up on morphine, so the team is down a player.

I’m not going to recap all the details of the story, but I will explain what I think accounts for sex in the title, since I’ve explained the other two titular words. Rick’s brother Sean (Adrian Grenier) has been away from the family for 16 years because he is gay. It tore the family apart when Sean was in high school. Now he’s a successful fashion designer living in London and is on magazine covers. He came home when his mother died, and he’s back again because his brother is dying.

Young Eli, incidentally, is almost a carbon copy of his uncle Sean. Let’s hope Eli’s progress through high school is easier than his uncle’s.

Other important characters in the story include Rick’s wife Glenn (Selma Blair), his father Dick (Daniel Hugh Kelly), the hospice nurse Ana (Drea de Matteo) and Rick’s stepmother Evie (Melora Walters).

There are assorted past and current friends, lovers and bullies involved in the story. I will give away the spoiler that 3 generations of McAllister men go home from the bowling tournament with black eyes because they finally take on the bullies.

All the best stories are about love.All the best stories are about love. I say that all the time because it’s true. This is a perfectly done story about love. Love among families – parents, children, siblings, husbands, wives, nephews, uncles. How we love one another, how we care for one another at the end of life, and how we forgive one another are at the core of Sex, Death and Bowling.

This movie gets maximum stars from me. Have you seen it? What was your opinion?

Images © 2015 Libelula Productions

2 thoughts on “Review: Sex, Death and Bowling”

  1. I haven’t seen it yet, but I make an effort to see most films which deal with an inter-generational theme, so I probably will. I’m happy to see that movies about genuine human relationships and emotions are being produced. I can always count on you, Virginia, to highlight them!

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