Movie Review: Welcome to the Riley’s (2010)
A common name doesn’t make a family in the 2010 hit Welcome to the Riley’s. Doug Riley see’s something more that just a 16-year old runaway stripper in Kristen’s Stewart’s character strategically known by many different names (e.g. Mallory, Allison, etc.) After losing his own 15-year old daughter, Emily, to a car accident the atypical, middle class Riley doesn’t turn to drinking or the abuse of his shut-in wife, Lois, who might be said to hold the blame. He continues going to his weekly poker games and tries to fill the void left by his now-distant wife with the love of a waitress named Vivian. When she too dies Riley is forced to deal with the loss of his family. Lois believes they are already dead and buys both her husband and herself tombstones next to Emily’s with nothing but the date of death to be filled in. After all, what is life without the daughter they’ve raised and loved for 15 years?
Things take a strange turn for the better when Riley goes to New Orleans on a business trip and meets “Mallory” (Kristen Stewart), a teenage girl who is most definitely not yet a woman. Mallory ran away from her home in Florida for reasons we are not given but one can only assume if shaking it on stage and performing sexual acts on men twice her age is preferable. At first, Riley is just playing the part of a decent guy who sees a struggling teen and gives her money without taking any sexual interest in her, despite her advances.
He soon befriends her and starts to treat her like a daughter, but on her terms. Oddly, Riley seems to know exactly how to handle the situation. For example, to control her flagrant disregard for the use of the “F”-word in his presence he docks her $1 for every time she says it from the $100 he is paying her a day to live in her run down house. Though Doug seems to be taking her under his wing as a daughter he seems to keep up a wall between them. Conversely, when Lois finally gets up the nerve to leave the house to drive to New Orleans, empowering herself with her own effort to restore her place with Doug, she takes on a motherly role with Mallory almost immediately.
That is, after she learns that her husband is not a pervert who is sleeping with a 16-year old girl. It is stunning how easily the up-tight Lois transforms into a caring, maternal figure for Mallory, despite the young lady’s profession. She is even mistaken for Mallory’s mother in a department store where Doug and Lois are taking a very family-esque shopping trip together.
This perfect family reconstruction is not to last, however. Doug and Lois must deal with the fact that they no longer have a daughter, but they do have each other, and now in a small way, Mallory. At the end of the film Doug receives a phone call from Mallory in which they both agree to keep in touch. Doug finally is able to break through the wall he has had up between the two of them and perhaps find some comfort for the loss of his own daughter as he calls her by her given name as Lois as been able to do from the beginning, Allison.