— Jake Coyle, AP Entertainment Writer.
‘‘Smashed’’ — The title refers not so much to the nearly perpetual state of inebriation that a young husband and wife put themselves in but rather to the way the wife finds her existence truly shattered when she tries to get sober. Staying at least slightly drunk all the time is easy, as Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s character knows well. It’s a blissfully ignorant existence, one big party. But once you stop drinking, the reality you've shoved aside returns with a vengeance. This battle with the bottle (and with bottled-up demons) is a frequent film topic, and ‘‘Smashed’’ deserves some credit for mostly avoiding the sort of histrionics that can be staples of the genre. Instead, director James Ponsoldt’s film, from a script he co-wrote with Susan Burke, is understated to a fault. The bottom isn’t low enough, the struggle isn’t difficult enough, and the characters (especially the supporting ones) don’t feel developed enough to provide necessary context for our heroine’s journey. ‘‘Smashed’’ is the rare movie that feels too short, too thin and it ends on an unsatisfying and rather unconvincing note, despite some recognizable, raw moments that preceded it. But Winstead ("Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,’’ ‘'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World") gets to show the full range of her abilities in her heaviest dramatic role yet as a first-grade teacher who finds her marriage and her work in jeopardy when she tries to stop drinking. Aaron Paul of ‘‘Breaking Bad’’ does the best he can with an underwritten role as her hard-partying husband. R for alcohol abuse, language, some sexual content and brief drug use. 85 minutes. Two stars out of four.
— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic