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USA 2001
Directed by
Michael Polish
101 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Jackpot (2001)

 If David Lynch had directed Tender Mercies (1982) it might have turned out like, writer Michael and director Mark Polish's film. .

A couple of losers - Sunny (Jon Gries), a 'disco cowboy' and Lester (Garrett Morris) his manager, travel across America in a hot pink Chrysler, competing in karaoke contests as a way of breaking into the world of MOR pop music (for anyone interested this sub-culture it is portrayed in Duets, 2000 which starred Huey Lewis in the equivalent role to that of Gries). The story is told in flashback opening with Daryl Hannah as Sunny's wife justifiedly upbraiding him for leaving her and their child to go on this cretinous escapade.

Jackpot has got a potentially engagingly offbeat story and the look (the film was photographed with a Sony Cine Alta digital video camera by M. David Mullen), but despite the intermittently amusing scenes, never really amounts to much, Surely, one feels, there had to be a lot more comedic value to be had from such a ludicrous premise..

Gries, who also has a producer credit, looking like a kind of older,balding Brad Pitt, does not really have the necessary charisma to carry the lead role (20 years ago it would have been played by Harry Dean Stanton, although probably to no better effect), which, as written by the Polish brothers, becomes less a character we might empathize with in his pathos than one who is thoroughly unlikeable in his selfishness and as a result the film comes across as less a celebration of human frailty and endurance than a pointless attempt to be clever.

FYI: Both Gries and Morris have lesser roles in the Polish brothers first and even more Lynchian film, Twin Falls Idaho.(1999) which is alluded to here. Gries achieved cult success as Uncle Rico in Napoleon Dynamite (2004).




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