Tag Archives: Tony Spiridakis

Part of Your World


by George Wolf

“The word ‘autism’ comes from the Greek ‘in your own world’. I don’t want him in his own world. I want him in this world.”

That heartfelt line in Ezra is going to hit home for many parents and caregivers, and it serves as the emotional core of a film that carves out some truly touching moments from a well-worn structure.

New Yorker Max (Bobby Cannavale) is a struggling standup comic who is co-parenting his autistic son Ezra (newcomer William A. Fitzgerald) with ex-wife Jenna (Rose Byrne). Max lives with his father, Stan (Robert De Niro), a former chef who’s now a doorman, and the two trade frequent barbs while Max and Jenna weigh the question of whether Ezra would be better off attending a special needs school.

Max can be an impulsive hothead, and when he misunderstands a conversation between Jenna and her boyfriend (Tony Goldwyn, who also directs), it leads to a series of unfortunate events and a three month restraining order.

And it takes a fraction of that for Max to break it because…road trip!

Max has landed an invite to do the Jimmy Kimmel show in L.A., so he and Ezra head cross-country while Jenna, Stan and numerous authorities try to track them down.

En route to the west, Max stops off to see an old girlfriend (Vera Farmiga) and his brother Nick (Rainn Wilson), which only adds to the stellar ensemble that elevates Tony Spiridakis’s script when it defaults to spoon-feeding and obvious sentimentality.

It’s great to see Cannavale again dig into a role that can showcase his range. Too often relegated to mustache-twirling cartoonish villains, Cannavale displays the talent that can make Max sympathetic, even when he’s a maddening mess.

Byrne delivers her usual, chemistry-filled excellence; De Niro scores with some crusty affection and understated humor (including a priceless ongoing gag about cookware); and the charming Fitzgerald ensures that the film’s big heart is consistently in the right place.

That place is here in our world, one filled with neurodivergent people of all manner and mannerisms. It’s a welcome message that Ezra delivers warmly, even if it’s a little too comfortable with convention.