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'Tumbledown' trips over cloying sitcom conventions

'Tumbledown' trips over cloying sitcom conventions
It’s man versus dog in the romantic dramedy “Tumbledown,” in which Jason Sudeikis costars. (Starz Digital)

A romantic-dramedy about a young woman determined to protect the legacy of her late folk singer husband, "Tumbledown" sees its good intentions undermined by cloying sitcom conventions.

An always-welcome Rebecca Hall gives a sensitively inhabited performance as Hannah, who has been holed up in her woodsy Maine cabin for the last couple of years attempting to chronicle her husband Hunter's life and music.

Enter Andrew (Jason Sudeikis), a smug, strident New York academic with a publishing deal to write his own take on the tormented musician, whose death while hiking in the mountains had been considered an accident.

As dictated in Rom-Com 101, their initial clash of personalities will eventually give way to a common understanding, but while this first feature by Sean Mewshaw, written by his wife, Desiree Van Til, provides them with a fertile backdrop, it eventually comes tumbling down under the weight of tired smaller screen clichés.

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Looking very lumbersexual with his cropped beard and plaid flannel, Sudeikis ultimately fails to make us feel what Hannah sees beyond his character's big-city arrogance; while Joe Manganiello, sporting a cartoonish New England accent as her blue-collar friend with benefits, seems to exist only to trade barbs with the erudite Andrew.

Hannah — and the audience — deserves better.

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'Tumbledown'

MPAA rating: R, for a sex scene

Running time: 1 hour, 43 minutes

Playing: Sundance Sunset, West Hollywood

For the Record

Feb. 4, 6:18 p.m.: An earlier version of this review incorrectly stated that the movie is playing at the Crest in Westwood.

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