Projections - Movie Reviews

Jackpot Jackpot

A staged, static cinematic bleakness undermines a distinctively impressive production in Jackpot which has a two-fold meaning.  This new, artsy road picture comes after the similarly sketchy Duets.  The title refers to paths to an effortless income (like gambling) and the town in Nevada some two hours south of Twin Falls, Idaho.  The title of the darkly hypnotic first film from look alike siblings Michael and Mark Polish who here are the producers and writers with Michael behind the camera.

Sunny Holiday, played by Twin Falls actor Jon Gries, has a sagely sidekick and personal manager, Les.  Les' part is enriched by original SNL prime time player Garrett Morris who gives the graying goateed confidante an endearing edginess.  Yet, even as Gries and Morris have a decent rapport which gives Jackpot some appeal, Gries' penurious, stubborn wrongly named Sunny who's none too bright and into "disco cowboy b.c." renders an unsympathetic, somewhat vocally viable character who becomes a part of the irony that leaves one empty to the potential bounties of Jackpot.

Daryl Hannah endows Sunny's wife Bobbi with loathing as is made clear as they have an unpleasant conversation around their observant one-year-old daughter while she is coloring.

Like Duets, there's the on-the-road again performance of karaoke tunes which is supposed to lead to what could be a huge payday at Jackpot, the city.

As Michael Polish has Jackpot set in the mid-80's with country tunes surrounded by the likes of Billy Idol, Cheap Trick, Robert John, and Spandau Ballet, the visual clarity has much more over Sunny who knows the world of karaoke but comes away with nothing better than second place.

Peggy Lipton, part of the ensemble known primarily for their TV roles, is probably the most likable woman as a truck stop waitress who entices Sunny but the scene turns in a way that marks Jackpot with a fleeting chance for success.

As Les guides Sunny through his escapades apparently not too concerned that nine quick-pick lottery tickets are his sole means of supporting his daughter, the farcical strangeness of Jackpot is transposed with more of the conflict with Bobbi and dapper brother Roland (Rick Overton).

Appearances by Mac Davis as a reasonable competitor and Anthony Edwards as Sunny's inopportune, upbeat career minded brother Tracy add to the eclectic roster of Jackpot.  But the Polish Brothers could have lit up Sunny's karaoke quest with more compelling anecdotal duets that could have been bolstered considerably by digital wide-screen technology.

 
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