There are only a handful of laughs in Reitman's romantic drama, a radical departure from the filmmaker's usual semi-satirical form; "Labor Day" is as earnest and straightforward as his previous film, "Young Adult," was crooked.
Certainly he and Paramount are hoping "Labor Day" is a return to form when it comes to tempting the Academy, and maybe a return to Telluride could be his lucky charm – "Juno" and "Up in the Air" both premiered there, while the un-nominated "Young Adult" didn't.
Unlike the film that filled the charmed opening slot last year, "Argo," which left the crowd enraptured, split opinions about "Labor Day" were immediately apparent on the gondola rides down from the mountaintop premiere. Oscar blogger chatter was also mixed, with Sasha Stone of Awards Daily calling it "sweet and sad … Reitman's best" while Hollywood Elsewhere's Jeffrey Wells said, "It's not a catastrophe but it felt to me like a sensitive humanist misfire."
While Ben Affleck was the champion of the day when he rode into town last year to premiere "Argo," Reitman had to cede that incoming-hero position this year to Robert Redford, who brought his J.C. Chandor-directed starring vehicle "All is Lost" (previously hailed at Cannes) while receiving the first tribute of the festival.