Cameron Edwin (Jim Gaffigan), the host of a mediocre children’s science show that aspires to bigger things but is not particularly well-liked by its audience, asserts that everyone has their “own personal universe.” Edwin’s father Mac (Roger Hendricks Simon) used to say that there were two categories of individuals in this world: astronomers and astronauts. Edwin has always been someone who stands on the ground and looks up at the sky, but he’s always wished that he could be an astronaut instead.
In point of fact, it looks as though Edwin’s life is crumbling to pieces. Edwin is so eager to get out of his rut that he applies to work for NASA, even though his wife, Erin (played by Rhea Seehorn), wants a divorce, and his father’s old age is causing him to forget more and more things. But suddenly, a car seemingly falling from the sky with a man inside who looks very similar to Edwin causes his entire existence to be turned upside down.
Edwin finds out that the guy who fell from the sky, Kent Armstrong (also portrayed by Gaffigan), is perfectly healthy and has taken over Edwin’s position as the host of his “Above & Beyond” show. To make matters even worse, Kent Armstrong has moved in just across the street from Edwin and his family. Edwin’s daughter, Nora (played by Katelyn Nacon), befriends Kent’s son, Marc (played by Gabriel Rush), much to Kent’s chagrin.
This relationship brings Edwin’s daughter into conflict with her father. In addition to all of this, a rocket lands in the backyard of the home owned by Edwin. Edwin starts using the debris to create his own rocket ship in his garage so that he may become an astronaut instead of merely an astronomer. This is part of his plan to change careers from astronomer to astronaut.
Linoleum, written and directed by Colin West, is a mystery film that takes its time unraveling its riddles. Instead, the film focuses on getting to know the Edwin family, including their hopes, ambitions, and challenges. Linoleum, with its suburban troubles and surreal touches, might at times remind viewers of American Beauty, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, or Magnolia. This is especially true when considering the phrase “sometimes things just happen,” which is repeated throughout the film.
Linoleum is likely Gaffigan’s finest part to date, despite the fact that in recent years he has played a number of roles that are considered to be more dramatic. Gaffigan portrays Cameron as a man who is desperate to go closer to achieving what he has always desired. While Gaffigan gives a portrayal that is diametrically opposed to what we see with Kent, whom Cameron describes as being the antithesis of himself. Kent is a frigid figure who is full of repressed wrath and antiquated notions.
Seehorn is also extremely effective in her role as Erin, a character who similarly has the desire to soar among the stars but makes an attempt to do this by divorcing her spouse and going in a different direction than he does. By watching previous episodes of “Above & Beyond,” which Erin and Cameron used to co-host, Linoleum demonstrates how much joy Erin used to have in the past and how she has lost that energy in the years since they hosted the show together.
Nora and Marc are also great and easily could have carried their own movie if given the opportunity. Linoleum depicts two adolescents who, during the course of their friendship, are struggling to emerge from the shadows cast by their parents while simultaneously grappling with the question of who they are.
If I were to provide any more information about Linoleum, it would take away from the things that made West’s picture so remarkable. It’s possible that the last third, which is when everything starts to come together, could feel disorganized at times, but in general, it will be quite beautiful. West has a very definite vision and purpose for everything he has put up, and it is enormously fulfilling and really emotional to watch it all come together as he intended it to be. West has written a tale that is stunning, personal, and at times overpowering, and it manages to take the spectator by surprise in the drama’s closing minutes.
Linoleum is a beautiful picture that demonstrates that West is a captivating new director. It will definitely make the spectator want to see more of Gaffigan and Seehorn in characters similar to those they play in this film. An astonishing story of the particular worlds we all inhabit, the peculiar messiness of life, and the beauty of how it all sorts itself out, in the end, has been crafted by West in his film about ordinary people who are striving to discover what it is about them that makes them exceptional.