Eli Bloom is a young piano prodigy and supermarket clerk who gets wasted the night before his audition for a prestigious music conservatory, embarrassing himself at a party in front of his longtime crush Chloe. In the morning, he has to take his mother, Penny, to rehab for her drug abuse, and his younger sister, Nicole, to school, where her teacher, Lisa, tells Eli that Nicole's sock-puppet friend has been insulting her classmates. Promising to take care of it, Eli takes off to drop Penny off, but she does not qualify for rehab due to lack of insurance. At the center, a nurse tells Penny to go out, get high, and come back with "dirty urine" to get in. Penny enlists Eli to go see her drug dealer, Sprinkles, for cocaine. She doesn't go inside because she owes Sprinkles money. While visiting Sprinkles and his companion Black, Eli becomes the translator for Sprinkles and his dealer, Eduardo.
Meeting Eduardo at a Puerto Rican restaurant, Eli translates what turns into an argument and is shoved to the floor by Eduardo, injuring his right hand, thus putting his audition in jeopardy. In the ensuing car ride, Eli accidentally consumes Penny's oxycodone pills. Arriving at the school for his audition, Eli runs into Chloe with a group of American Revolutionary War reenactors (which Sprinkles mistakingly identifies as civil war reenactors), and she helps him prepare. Eli begins to play his piece but fails to finish because of his injured hand and attitude from the pills.
Leaving the auditorium, embarrassed, Sprinkles shows Eli and Penny the trophy he won for his track record. Sprinkles steals the trophy and he, Eli, Penny, and Black go to pick up Nicole. They drop Nicole off at Penny's sister Trish's, who doesn't like having Penny around because of her drug habit and the fact that she allegedly "completely ruined last Christmas". Eli talks Trish into watching Nicole for a couple hours while he, Penny, and his "colleagues from the supermarket" go do some stuff.
The group returns to the Puerto Rican restaurant to find a party in progress. Sprinkles and Black pick up the drugs while Eduardo dances with Eli's mother. Eli and Sprinkles drink tequila at the bar, and Sprinkles assures Eli he is a musical genius and encourages him to pursue his dream. He also gives Eli the cocaine his mom needs. Eli tells his mom to take the drugs, but she refuses, saying she no longer needs rehab. He calls her a liar and storms out.
Eli runs into the reenactors on the street and reveals his feelings to Chloe. Eli gets a call from his mom and runs to Trish's house to find her hysterical as Trish is hiding Nicole in the bathroom until Penny leaves. Eli chastises Trish, tells Nicole to stop using the puppet, and tells Penny that Nicole can't come home unless she goes to rehab. They agree that Trish will look after Nicole while Eli's mom gets help.
Eli takes Penny back to the rehab clinic and keeps watch while she does the cocaine. She apologizes to Eli and says she wants him to go to the conservatory. She also tells him addiction runs in his genes and he will end up in rehab eventually, then goes to check in. Eli returns to the reenactment area to find Chole. Eli's piano teacher calls him to say that the judges, surprisingly, want him back for another audition the following day. Chloe gives him a hat and character name to join the reenactment, signaling the start of their relationship. The next day Eli plays beautifully at the audition despite his hand injury.Jesse Eisenberg as Eli "Mozart" Bloom
Melissa Leo as Penny Bloom
Tracy Morgan as Leopold "Sprinkles" Leonard
Isiah Whitlock, Jr. as Black
Emma Rayne Lyle as Nicole Bloom
Sarah Ramos as Chloe
Stephanie March as Trish
Tanya Wright as Lisa
Paul Calderón as Eduardo
Jayce Bartok as Nurse Mike
Neal Huff as Dave
The film had its premiere at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival on January 27, 2012 and had a limited theatrical release in the US on August 17, 2012.
The film currently holds a universally negative 24% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 21 reviews and a 36/100 score on Metacritic based on 10 reviews. Film critic Roger Ebert gave "Why Stop Now" three-and-a-half stars out of four, commenting: "Week after week, we get dimwitted comedies, and then a charmer like this comes along, and it gets a limited release. 'Why Stop Now' is a bright screwball comedy about one fraught day in the life of a piano prodigy, his addict mother and her drug dealers."