Cameron Edwin (Jim Gaffigan, "Light from Light"), the middle-aged host of ‘Above & Beyond,’ a DIY kids’ science program with a midnight time slot, has just put another application for NASA’s space program in a mailbox when, riding his bicycle home, a red Corvette drops out of the sky and lands upside down on the road right in front of him. Cam will later tell his family that the man who survived the crash looked like a younger and better looking version of him, but his wife Erin (Rhea Seehorn, TV's 'Better Call Saul') is skeptical about the whole story and when Kent Armstrong (also Gaffigan) ends up both taking Cam’s job and moving in across the street, he denies it too in “Linoleum.”
Laura's Review: B
Writer/director Colin West performs several sleights of hand with his sophomore feature, a movie about failed dreams and dysfunctional families that keeps bending time and space, evolving into a parallel universe love story. West has even found cover in his final moments for elements that don’t quite add up, an idea we’ve seen used before that West builds up to so slyly, it comes as a surprise. Comedian Jim Gaffigan carries the film playing two vastly different roles as men who end up not only in different places from where we first meet them but with an unusual connection to each other. Once again cast against a comedian in a drama, Rhea Seehorn radiates complex and luminous support.
Cam isn’t just wrestling with a failing television show, but a failing dad, Mac (Roger Hendricks Simon) suffering from dementia but still fascinated by mathematical concepts like the mobius strip. Erin was once Cam’s enthusiastic co-host but gave up on the faltering show, taking a managerial job at a local air and space museum. On the verge of divorcing Cam, she’s contemplating a ‘dream’ job offer from Wright Patterson AFB, a two hour commute away. Their daughter Nora (Katelyn Nacon, TV's 'The Walking Dead') believes she’s a lesbian but is thrown by her attraction to Marc (Gabriel Rush, "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark"), the new kid at school who proves the teacher’s birthday paradox lesson by sharing hers on Halloween. Their younger son, Sam (Levi Chapin) never speaks but no one seems to take notice. Then one day Cam arrives home to find it cordoned off with police tape because a Russian rocket has landed in his backyard. And it will be his rival new neighbor’s son, Marc, who suggests he unearth and rebuild it. When he begins to actually do it, it will yield surprising results, like a mysterious older woman (Elisabeth Henry) who observes from afar…
That’s far from everything going on here and perhaps West has overstuffed his narrative, but he’s also seeded it with clever little signposts like that mobius strip or the astronaut suit with the broken faceplate in Cam’s studio/workshop or the fact that Cam’s dad’s doctor (Tony Shalhoub, TV's 'Monk') has to remind him he’s in geriatrics not psychology. The film is also genuinely sweet, loaded with genuine human emotion and heart. Yet Gaffigan hits some very dark, even creepy, notes as Cam’s alter ego.
I still have no idea why West chose his title, but “Linoleum” was an unexpected treat, an independent film full of thought-provoking ideas.
Robin's Review: B-
Cameron Edwin (Jim Gaffigan), since he was a kid, dreamed of being an astronaut. Now, many years later, he hosts a dead end science show for kids airing at midnight. Then, things get really strange, indeed, when a younger version of him moves in across the street, a car falls from the sky and a Cold War-era satellite crashes in his backyard in “Linoleum.”
Life, essentially, sucks for Cameron. His childhood dreams have been dashed by the years; his once-hopeful job hosting an educational kids’ science show is relegated to a midnight public TV time slot when all the kiddies are asleep; he is alienated from his son; his father is institutionalized with dementia; and, to top it all off, he finds a letter from a divorce lawyer addressed to his wife, Erin (Rhea Seahorn).
Then he has one of those good news/bad news days. His boss at the TV station announces that his show, “Above and Beyond,” is finally getting a time slot when kids would actually be awake. Then, he is told he is “promoted” to consultant and that his new neighbor, his younger doppelganger, Kent Armstrong (Gaffigan in obvious “young” makeup) is the new host of the show.
At this point, at about the half way point, things get weird and reality and fantasy frequently cross paths. If you want to know what those paths are, you will have to see “Linoleum” for yourself. I, personally, found that the story gets too wrapped up in itself and takes some stumbles. But, it is an intelligent story that does not talk down to us, entertains and makes you think.
Shout! Studios opens "Linoleum" in select theaters nationwide on 2/24/23. Click here for play dates.