Ezra, 2024, 3 stars

On the road to reconciliation

Image courtesy of Enzian / Florida Film Festival

Exclusive to MeierMovies, April 10, 2024

Autism is a tough cinematic subject. The performances of non-autistic actors often appear contrived or forced, as if they are begging for our sympathy, while casting autistic performers can be impractical. So I’m happy that Ezra, the new dramedy directed by Tony Goldwyn and penned by Tony Spiridakis, gets it mostly right.

I use the weary word “happy” on purpose, as Ezra is infused with joy, despite its difficult subject. Max (Bobby Cannavale, in a career performance) is a New Jersey stand-up comic with a collapsing career and a collapsed marriage. Forced to live with his curmudgeon of a dad, Stan (Robert De Niro, in a must-see turn for De Nirophiles), Max reaches his breaking point when his 11-year-old autistic son Ezra (William Fitzgerald, in his debut) is expelled from school. Rejecting his wife’s (Rose Byrne) decision to put Ezra in a special school, Max makes a crazy decision that is likely not the best for his son but, despite the contrivances, is a good MacGuffin. Hey, everyone likes a cross-country road trip during which the characters discover themselves, right?

Ezra is mostly unremarkable and hard to swallow in its third act, but the strong cast – Whoopi Goldberg, Vera Farmiga, Rainn Wilson and even Jimmy Kimmel have small roles – make it eminently likeable. Like Max and Ezra, it’s got moxie.

© 2024 MeierMovies, LLC

This capsule review is part of my coverage of the 2024 Florida Film Festival. To find out when this movie is playing and buy tickets, go to FloridaFilmFestival.com. For more information about the event and an index of reviews of other festival films, go here. For more information on this movie, visit IMDB.