5 June 2019 | vchimpanzee
Mostly pleasant and even funny, doesn't avoid controversy
In 2008, Sam is a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who takes the Staten Island Ferry to his job as a security guard at a building where spoiled young rich people live. He gets revenge on a group that was drunk and disorderly, which becomes a problem for him later.
Amira is a young Muslim woman who sells DVDs on the street. This is illegal for several reasons and will become a problem later. She wears a hijab but is criticized for showing a lot of skin by another Muslim woman who is properly dressed.
Sam has a souvenir from when he served alongside Bassam in Iraq and they became good friends. He found out where Bassam lived in New York City, but when he arrives at the apartment building, he has to press a button to get in but can't figure out which one. Amira is no help and makes it clear from the start she doesn't like him. Sam finally figures out how to get in and discovers Amira is Bassam's niece. Bassam is so happy to see his old friend but Amira hates soldiers because of what they did to her family. Furthermore, Amira is in the country illegally because she is afraid of what will happen to her after her family helped the enemy during the war. Sam stays for dinner but it is an awkward experience. He is an aspiring stand-up comic and he tells some funny stories and does it well, but Amira is not impressed. The three watch TV ("Keeping Up with the Kardashians") and then it is time for Sam to go. Amira rudely pushes Sam out.
Sam goes to a comedy club, where the results are no better than with Amira.
I'm not clear on why because he is not looking for disability benefits, but Sam visits a Veterans' Affairs office. If you like cats, look closely at the scene. I record everything I watch on TV and this is a great opportunity to go back and slow down the video.
Sam visits his cousin Charlie, who sells hedge funds on Wall Street. Charlie needs a veteran to convince Jack, a wealthy Vietnam vet, to invest millions of dollars. Sam does a great job making friends with Jack and it looks like he has a future on Wall Street. But there are potential problems with this job. Sam also gets invited to several parties, which ends up being a problem.
In addition to all his other difficulties, Sam gets a call from Bassam, who is miles away in the middle of nowhere. I assume he drives a truck and that's why he's not in the city. Amira finally got in trouble and needs someone to get her out of jail. And to watch over her until Bassam can return and hopefully get her out of trouble.
It seems unlikely, but there is actually potential for romance between Sam and Amira. She stays at his place, and they spend time together. And remember how she was criticized for showing too much skin? In one scene you have to ask what's the point of the hijab when the rest of her looks like Jennifer Lopez at an awards show.
And people are looking at Amira a certain way. September 11 is mentioned twice. The first time is when Sam and his friends (the others are wearing suits) talk about what they did the next day, though apparently only Sam went through with his plans. The second time is when Sam's uncle, looking at Amira, tells how he watched people jump from the twin towers.
While the movie is funny at times and Sam and Amira do have a pleasant relationship, it does not shy away from the issues.
As Sam, Martin Starr is quite dignified and yet still manages to be funny. He is not silly, even though some of the situations he gets in are.
Dina Shihabi as Amira comes across as intelligent and independent and, while not exactly likeable at first, manages to be appealing. She does laugh later and shows a more pleasant side to her personality. While doing her job, she comes across as charming in an aggressive and annoying manner. A little different from Paul Wesley, who is charming in the way one would be expected to be on Wall Street.
David Rasche does a good job, which he always does, as the Vietnam vet. He tells a beautiful but unpleasant story when he spends time with Sam. It's a great scene.
There is way more cursing than there should be. Numerous times, the sound went out and a character's mouth, or a word in the subtitles, was blurry.
Overall, it's a worthwhile effort.