The quirky sci-fi film “Linoleum” includes a whirlwind of good ideas yet doesn’t quite live up to its full potential. The story of a children’s science television show host (Jim Gaffigan) whose world is upended when a satellite crash lands in the backyard of his suburban home is taken a step further when he and his wife (Rhea Seehorn) decide to reconstruct it into their very own rocket in an attempt to fulfill their dreams of traveling to space. It’s a sweetly unconventional story about coming to terms with love, regret, trauma, and failure. Much of the joy is derived from an unexpected plot twist, even if the ending is a bit of a letdown.
The film has an eccentric indie quality that’s charming (think along the lines of “Safety Not Guaranteed”). The characters are likeably droll, and the story has a lot of heart. There’s a mystery at the center of the narrative, and writer / director Colin West includes a lot of slow filler so he can drag out the big secret. It all makes sense in the end, but the finale is stretched out too long as well. It’s all about tugging on heartstrings and getting the waterworks flowing, so the movie makes its point repeatedly, but keeps going.
If this review sounds frustratingly vague, it’s because any further details would surely be considered spoilers. This is the type of small film that deserves to be discovered in the moment by audiences.
In the end, there’s just too much story and once the big reveal happens, some story elements don’t quite add up or fit. But “Linoleum” has a lovely sentiment that’s charming and touching, and is an offbeat tale about finding the joy in simply living.