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  • Even more than the previous, awesome movie by the Polish brothers, "Jackpot" presents a quiet, even-keeled portrait of what at first seem like a ridiculous pair, but who's sincerity and refusal to give up makes you admire them. There's a kindness to the ironic view that is a relief; the characters are not exaggerated or spoofed into cartoon-condition, their audiences aren't either. The tone of the film is respectful yet ironic - a healthy mix. The cinematography is nothing less than beautiful, again as was the previous film from M & Polish, "Twin Falls Idaho". Same cinematographer, David Mullen, but this time the movie originated on 24P, high-definition video, and was converted to film. It's really very beautiful, the tones are just right, the look doesn't distract from the story at any time, but if you care for such things, it is really a visual treat. I think the movie might have gained from a little 'scissors action' towards the end it started to drag a bit, but not enough to change the fact that this is a wonderful and completely enjoyable movie in many ways.
  • Attached to every dream there is a ticking clock, an acceptable window of opportunity. When that window closes it's time for the dreamer to "Give it up", and "Get a life", or run the risk of society labeling them a pathetic loser. An unfair stigma if you ask me. Jackpot's Sunny Holiday (Jon Gries) is one such dreamer, whose dream it is to make it big as a singer. His unorthodox means to that end is to hit the road and compete in a string of Karaoke contests, which he and his manager Les (Garrett Morris) hope will bring him exposure and much needed prize money to keep the show on the road and the dream alive.

    It's a seemingly harmless pursuit, but society has another label for Sunny - "deadbeat", as in "deadbeat dad". Unless slipping the odd lottery ticket into the mail from time to time is considered acceptable fulfillment of child support obligations, Sunny falls a little short in the parenting department. But he means well, dammit, and if, as they say, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions", then that must be the road that Sunny and Les travel down in their pink 80's model New Yorker, en route to Jackpot, Nevada. It's a road littered with broken dreams and broken dreamers, and paved with the cruelty of hope. The hope that lies in every new town, where there always awaits a new contest, a new chance to win and a new chance to forget the past and make everything all right.

    Jackpot, the second offering from Mark and Michael Polish (Twin Falls Idaho), is a wonderful, often hilarious and oddly touching film. Driven by the inspired lead performances of Jon Gries and Garrett Morris, and deliciously peppered by a never-ending string of cameos and supporting turns by an eclectic ensemble cast that includes Daryl Hannah, Patrick Bauchau, Peggy Lipton, Crystal Bernard, Mac Davis, and Anthony Edwards, Jackpot is a refreshingly original tale full of heart and humor and told with a stunning visual style and a dreamy vibe that has the Polish Brothers' thumb prints all over it. A rare film, this is the type of movie that reminds me why movies are made. I thoroughly enjoyed Jackpot and recommend it very highly to movie audiences this summer...and beyond.
  • A simple story about a simple man....with more in his head than his brain can process. He sits in his car, rewinding and fast-forwarding his favorite song as he "spins" through the high and low points of his marriage and singing "career." Bizarre flick brilliantly cut! The film, I am told, was shot on 24p Hi Def video. Bravo.....looks like Film! Great color too! A technological must see.
  • The Polish Brothers' "Jackpot" is a unique and well crafted, but unfortunately flawed little movie about determination and the weight carried that can cause one to let go of their dreams. It is as entertaining as it is long, but endless on creativity. It is a bizarre, unpredictable trip following a mysterious kareoke singer named Sunny Holiday and his even stranger counterpart Lester Irving. Both are pathetic in their obsessive desires, but also oddly motivated. Sunny was a family man who sets out to find himself, and a future singing at bars and lounges. He does have his success, mainly because of Irving's help. The film has an ironic, sarcastic tone, floating across the Mid-Western lounge scene introducing many wonderful characters. The Polish Brothers are excellent filmmakers and add a distinct humor and style to this original sophmore effort. At times the film seems aimless, and going in circles (or not anywhere at all) seems to go on for a very long length yet it manages to eventually take off with the help of a lot of clever ideas (notably the brilliant structuring). But the greatness in storytelling makes "Jackpot" a one of a kind winner. It is such beautiful and original filmmaking. Life on the road is captured with such a genuine feel as the two mysterious men drive about in their pink car and encounter many weird and appealing characters. The high definition cinematography is pretty amazing as wellÂ…reminiscent of Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut."
  • This flashback, head trip style is confusing at first but really works at the story unfolds. Once we find Sunny Holiday (Jon Gries, great job by the way) sitting in his car rewinding and fast forwarding his tape over and over until finally interrupted by his karoake tour manager, Les (Garrett Morris) you realize he is as obsessive compulsive as his brother (played by Anthony Edwards and Rick Oberton).

    Funny moments besides a few fart jokes include Mac Davis not feeling his own real life his BABY DON'T GET HOOKED ON ME does not feel right for him.
  • KingJJ29 January 2003
    If this was 1972, Jackpot would star Jack Nicholson as a talented, but down on his luck musician searching the dusty corners of the country looking for his big break and the pieces of his squandered life. Critics would hail it as being gritty and brave. But Jackpot takes place in the here and now. And while it's hero is searching the dusty corners of the country looking for his big break and the pieces of his squandered life, he is utterly talentless, mean spirited, self centered, and a pathetic jerk to boot. Needless to say, critics did hail Jackpot in the least. Which, I can't blame them for. A year and a half ago I left the theater feeling I experienced nothing more than a loss of $10. I felt the film was pointless, aimless, and without any real payoff. But, after 5 blocks on the walk home I realized, so are the lives of the characters.

    Therein lies the beauty of the film. It's the man behind the legend that was never a legend to begin with (except in his own mind). It's a '70s anti-hero film except with the sense to show the "hero" for who he really is. Not a tortured genius. But, only a loser with delusion of tortured genius.

    And, upon repeated viewing it's aimlessness becomes invisible. In fact, the script is militant in it's tightness. But, the direction never chooses to hit you over the head with it's plot or it's points.

    Instead, opting to throw them about almost offhanded, allowing them to seep in (as it did for me, and perhaps not for others).

    Jackpot is rich in it's rewards to those who pay attention. And besides, any film that can go from being terrible to great in 5 blocks has to be worth something.
  • I probably expected too much from Jackpot, since it was the winner of the 2002 IFP/West Indie Spirit Award for "Best Feature under $500,000 Budget". What I want to know, is how can you cast Jon Gries, Garrett Morris, Darryl Hannah, Adam Baldwin, Peggy Lipton, Mac Davis and Anthony Edwards in an indie film and still come out with a budget under $500,000? I thought I read somewhere that Edwards made approximately that much from one episode on "ER"?

    There are several good acting performances in Jackpot, but nothing that jumped out at me as being something really noteworthy. A lot of publicity surrounded the fact that this film was shot in high-definition digital format and transferred to 35mm for theatrical release. The story starts out like it's going to be fairly interesting, then degenerates into something murky and confused. What is the point? Who is the protagonist? Who are we supposed to care about here?

    I won't give a plot summary rehash here. Suffice it to say that the pink Cadillac is almost one of the high points and the pretentious monologue that provides a narrative soundover in places in this film was absolutely unappealing and unenlightening. Good performances by the name talent (who apparently appeared for very little financial compensation, if we are to believe the budget numbers) as well as good cinematography by M. David Mullen saved this film from the disaster that it might have been, if the Polish brothers had to make it for under $500,000 without benefit of all the name acting talent and Mullen's visual artistry. Apparently the overall response to the film was closer to mine than to the IFP voters: the film grossed less than $50,000 in nine weeks of very limited theatrical release.
  • This film is not just that typical on the road Middle America odyssey, with frequent stops in kitschy bars and dusty diners. Jackpot has a well written script with a strong focus on character development and interaction. Gries and Morris work well together as a fly-by-night duo. Gries' goofy but personable character allows his mediocre singing to be quite intriguing. The witty dialogue was enjoyable and consistent throughout the film. Most notable is Garret Morris' performance. The film was a clever attempt to show two zealous characters struggle for an unrealistic, waste of a goal. You can't help but be envious of their carefree attitude and at the same time loathe their divergence from ideal responsibilities. It's realism allows for a vicarious experience and an appreciation of great screenwriting.
  • This film opens with a SNAP! Love the crazy use of the old car cassette player to rewind and fast forward us through the thoughts in Sunny Holiday's otherwise empty head. Jon Gries, who plays Sunny, is excellent.

    However, the movie slows down a bit from there. Loved the singing, the one night stands, the poetry readings that are voice over, but some of the chit chat that happens in the long in betweens, though funny at times, looses you. Cut cut cut.

    The camera work is a little static and dull, though the set design, wardrobe and editing are exciting. Just when you were bored or squirming in your seat, Sunny hits the rewind button and brings you back to life.

    The movie gets fun in the end when Sunny meets up with his equally dysfunctional brothers, played by Anthony Edwards and Rick Oberton.

    Go see if for the dirty jokes and go see it for the technology. Great use of the new 24p hi def medium.
  • One of my favorite movies, Mr. Morris is wonderful in Jackpot.
  • In "Jackpot", the Polish brothers tell the story of a character who is more curious than interesting - a soap-selling professional karaoke hustler (Gries) with his own agent (Morris) and impossible dreams of making it as a pop singer. The film has a good premise and an excellent execution but is doubtless destined to be one of those fringe indies with earnest integrity which flies in the face of limited market appeal. An enjoyable watch for those into films about quirky, down-and-out type characters. (B-)
  • Let's hope that the world in which "Jackpot" takes place isn't representative of how the Polish brothers feel about the world the rest of us live in, 'cause Jackpot's world is an utterly inane one; one where attractive but shallow, dim-witted, and ironically, man-hating women inexplicably hop into bed at the drop of a hat with UNattractive, shallow, dim-witted, and ironically, women-hating men like Sunny Holiday (played by the always reliable, but embarrassed-to-be-here Jon Gries). At best, his character merits a five-minute short (maybe a great first-year film-school assignment about a dumb loser who senses he's a dumb loser and hates the fact that maybe he's a dumb loser); not a feature-length treatment. This film simply has nothing to say, as if the Polish's went to a computer that was programmed by a computer, gave it a set of circumstances surrounding a one-dimensional character and instructed it to write a full-length script to fill in the time between the beginning and the end (a computer with no capability of emotion, depth, reality or insight to the circumstances with which it was instructed to depict). It's like they did that, tossed in plenty of mean-spirited, immature, blandly-written chatter disguised as dialogue, found the first actor older than 15 who dared lend their name to the thankless role of Sunny Holiday, grabbed the nearest camera and started shooting. Of course, all that would require effort. *sigh* This film isn't even THAT ambitious.

    So who is this Sunny Holiday? Sunny Holiday is an blatantly untalented singer who tries to "make it" in a cluttered profession which requires great talent in order to just survive (and he's trying not for the prospect of actually helping himself or his family, but for the most shallow and tired of reasons, "fame-n-fortune"). He's equipped with a never-ending self-centered and repulsive bitterness towards his efforts, sans any joy or appreciation about what he sees as an ordeal...thank god he wasn't crippled, too; then the Polish's would probably have him just roll on out of his crappy trailer in a wheelchair at the beginning and start shooting passersby...but then there would be no movie...not that there is one here). I got the feeling that the final scene could have been stuck somewhere in the abyss of the middle without notice, illustrating the chief flaw of this film (pretty much a fatal one, considering films are supposed to tell a story): The film doesn't tell a story. Almost every film, even the bad ones, tell some kind of story -- if they didn't, we'd have hundreds of thousands of screenwriters clogging our screens with their random thoughts; a lack of appreciation and regard for the act of Telling A Story...something the Coen brothers could probably pull off in their sleep with none of the self-congradulating, self-indulging lack of audience respect the Polish's display in "Jackpot". Maybe I'm being too harsh on the Polish brothers, maybe they just suffer from the same thing Sunny Holiday and all of us suffer from in some capacity: inability.

    But we're not the ones charging 8 bucks to tell people what they already know.

    For example: In one scene, when we (and one in a series of hop-into-bed-with-a-stranger-at-the-drop-of-a-hat-for-no-reason-whatsoever waitresses) find out the hard way that Sunny has a pre-mature ejaculation problem, we want to see how this problem affects him and/or the story, but when the next scene (a stock "morning after" scene) soon begins and the two act exactly as they would have without the previous scene, we realize, painfully, that that's about all the Polish's have to say about about pre-mature ejaculation: That it exists. Deep, guys! About this point in the film, I'm beginning to feel a lot like that waitress probably felt after Sunny climaxes on her before they even have their clothes off: used and abused.

    "Jackpot" is hundreds of feet of exposed celluloid without a point; not really a "film". In a film, as in any artistic endeavor that requires money for us to behold, ANY point is certainly better than no point. (Even the equally-sour "Kids" had a point, hinted at subtley during the film, but made clearly and soundly at the very end, when it mattered most, rewarding us for sticking around, and sending us to out of the theatre and back to our lives THINKING, not wiping the sleep out of our eyes.)

    Most of us can be repulsed and/or bored to death on a daily basis in our own lives absolutely free. So do what Sunny Holiday never did: Stay home and save your money!
  • "Jackpot" is a tiny part of "Nashville" blown up into a feature-length tour-de-misere. While the film may strike some as funny or good-humored, it is only so to the extent that the comedy cuts the pain of the characters like a shot of bourbon.

    The film has a pacing problem, in my view, and does spiral a bit aimlessly through the middle, but the character-driven plot and the editing are generally excellent. It IS a 'film-school' film, and may well exasperate annoy the average punter looking for a fun-time flick about Karaoke. I would recommend that such a viewer stick with "Duets".

    This film is about facing up to broken dreams, and coming to terms with very hard necessities. As such, it's not fun, and indeed, is justly not for everyone. If you're not interested in what is essentially an extended meditation on some of the seamier songs by Waylon Jennings, avoid.
  • I saw a trailer for the film and I thought the poster was very original, so I thought I would go see it. It was only at the theater for a week and I missed it. I'm just now catching it on DVD(January 2002). From the very first frame to the last, I couldn't get over the excellent look of the film considering it was so low budget. The whole movie could be his reel of work. Once I got past the incredible compositions and lighting, I watched the film.

    Jon Gries is one of those underrated actors you see pop up in a film every once in awhile and say, hey, it's that dude from Running Scared or the Wolfman in The Monster Squad, or better yet, Lazlo Hollyfield in Real Genius. That's all I could think of when I was bowling next to him at the Hollywood Star Lanes. That, and how stunning his bowling partner was, Audie England(Free Enterprise). Gries performance should get him better work in films but that's just not how it goes in big bad Hollywood. It was also refreshing to see Garrett Morris in something other than SNL. Both worked well off of each other and the script led itself to great performances.

    The movie has some great laughs and was an enjoyable viewing. The use of the tape player in the car to go forward and backward in time was ingenius. One of those ploys to visually show where you're going in the story without having to show those cheesy wavy lines or have the camera go out of focus. A solid sophomore effort by the Polish brothers. I can't comment on their first movie, Twin Falls Idaho, due to lack of seeing it, but I can say there is a nice plug for the movie, when Jon and Garrett mention they are going to Jackpot, just south of Twin Falls, and the interviewer relays with "Twin Falls, Idaho?" Nice.