Kristen Stewart plays a lonely stripper in Welcome to the Rileys.
By John Esther
In response to the death of their 15-year-old daughter Emily, Doug Riley (James Gandolfini) plays poker and poke-her every Thursday night while his wife, Lois (Melissa Leo), jails herself inside their Indiana suburban home.
During the first and only business trip we see him take — although it is hard not to assume he takes many — Doug meets a 16-year-old stripper with multiple pseudonyms (Kristen Stewart) at a shady club in 2009 in New Orleans.
At first Doug cares very little about the young girl but then, when she is out of her work garb, she suddenly reminds him of Emily. So Doug calls up Lois and tells her he is not coming home, sells the business and begins life with a new sense of paternity.
At a rate of $100 per day, Doug pays “Mallory” to let him stay with her. Although she now makes approximately $3,000 per month for doing nothing, this does not stop her from stripping and prostituting herself.
Meanwhile, startled by her husband’s revolt, Lois gets in the car and, after a series of lame driving scenes meant to be facetious, heads south to the Big Easy. Once there, the three attempt to forge a new family, but it may be too late.
When the story does work, Gandolfini and Leo give us some of their best work. Unfortunately, Stewart, who cannot find a credulous rhythm to her performance, is noticeably bad during quite a few scenes, especially the ones she shares with Leo. (Stewart also stars in LAFF's World Premiere of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.)
A Summer Showcase selection in search of another draft or two, director Jake Scott and writer Ken Hixon’s Welcome to the Rileys does have its charming moments, but the primary narrative is simply too contrived to be believable.
(Welcome to the Rileys screens June 25, 7:30 p.m., Regal Cinemas; June 27, 4 p.m., Regal Cinemas)