Tiger Within

I don’t know how this old timer can stand this girl.

“Tiger Within” is another farewell performance for Ed Asner, who sadly passed away in 2021. I shared my passion for him when I reviewed the “Up” short film “Carl’s Date,” and I’ll say it again.

“It’s kind of personal to me because I did a video chat with him the year he passed away, and it hurts me that we won’t get to hear or see more of his magic. Asner was known to many people as Lou Grant on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” or his various interpretations of Santa Clause with “Elf” being the best. But he’ll never be forgotten…”

Now, I’m reviewing his final live-action role in “Tiger Within.” It was released in select art-house theaters and on various streaming sites early this July, but I never got word about the film until last week. Better late than never to see how they give Asner another send-off. Unfortunately, it’s not something he deserves.

It tells the story of a troubled, anti-Semitic teenager named Casey (Margot Josefsohn), who leaves home in Cleveland from her drunken mom (Erica Piccininni) and abusive boyfriend (Jonathan Brooks). She travels to Los Angeles, draws sketches in her book, and works as a sex worker. The kind who massages men interested in pleasures than conversations, which she tries to engage herself in.

Then, comes Asner as an elderly Holocaust survivor named Samuel, who takes the girl in. She thinks the Holocaust was a big joke, but the old man tells her otherwise, especially since he lost his family to it.

From the start, the girl curses, and acts ignorant towards the Holocaust, and yet, Samuel wants to make her a better young lady. He lets her stay on two conditions. She thinks they’re dirty sexual pleasure, but he tells her to never use those words ever again. Quite loudly, which should wake her up.

1.) She needs to get that swastika off her jacket.

2.) She goes to school.

She agrees to those terms, but she still needs to work on her attitude and mouth.

On the side, she has a romance with her classmate-the awkwardly kind Tony (Diego Josef), who doesn’t see her the way most people would. And when tragedy strikes the girl, she has to treat him like a jerk, instead of the considerate young man he is.

The reason for the title of the film “Tiger Within,” is because Samuel tells the girl of an old Chinese saying: “Taming the tiger within,” which means she must overcome her fears and demons, and embrace her emotions within. And I feel she lets out her anger too much.

The way to really honor Ed Asner is to look back at his best work. “Tiger Within” does allow him to use a Yiddish accent, while keeping his mannerisms, but I feel he doesn’t get the kind of respect he deserves within the story and his connection with the girl. In fact, it becomes too repetitive and crass to really sympathize with anyone.

Yes, there are times when you feel bad for the girl, and Josefsohn looks and plays the part, but there are also times when you feel a bit overwhelmed by the behaviors. It just wasn’t for me. I’ll stick to Asner’s best material, as you should, too.

Rating: 2 out of 4.

Streaming On VOD

Playing at New Plaza Cinemas in NYC

This article was written by me with full support of the SAG-AFTRA and Writers Guild of America strikes.

Categories: Drama

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