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  • I had a difficult time dealing with this movie, partly because the entire system of lobbying is so despicable in itself, and partly because the writer has done his best to show Jack Abramoff as a fundamentally nice guy who just overreached a little and got caught.

    I mean, right at the beginning, after we see Kevin Spacey (superb) talking to himself in a mirror, we hear his explanation of why lobbyists exist. Because they're useful. They give legislators information about subjects the legislators need to know something about in order to do their jobs.

    That explanation comes straight out of a now unfashionable school of sociological thought called functionalism. If something exists in a society, it's there for a good reason. Otherwise it wouldn't be there, right? Whores make the streets safe for our wives and children. The Mafia fills in the gaps that the police force can't, and it meets a market demand among consumers of illegal goods. Mass murderers and psychopaths provide us with bad examples that we can point out to our kids so they'll know what not to become.

    According to the film, Abramoff just did was everyone else was doing. He only had the misfortune of being caught. Nobody argues that perhaps congressional aides or interns ought to be doing the research instead of paid lobbyists. No explanation is offered for why spending on lobbyists more than doubled between 2000 and 2009.

    There are no such reality intrusions. Abramoff is a colorful, funny, very active guy. He works out. He loves his family. He knows everyone. He's religious. He opens a kosher restaurant on K Street and plans to open a Hebrew school.

    A second reason I found it hard to assess the movie is that I didn't understand it because I'm too dumb. I couldn't follow all the shenanigans. Okay. In one of his minor deals, towards the beginning, the Chippewa tribe, among whom I once lived as a cultural anthropologist, gave him millions of dollars and the money apparently disappeared. Where? I don't know. I told you I was dumb. I don't know what an expression like "he wants ten percent under the table" means. I don't know why a Greek was killed. I don't know why Jon Lovitz got stabbed with a ball point pen. Tom DeLay has a prominent role and I don't know what he did that was supposed to be bad. Abramoff makes some venomous remark about George W. Bush at the end and I don't know why. And I can hardly credit the notion that Mike Scanlon's (Barry Pepper, with a great twisted face) girl friend dropped the dime on all these enterprises because she found a pair of red alien panties in her boy friend's laundry. It's the kind of movie that someone as stupid as I am needs a little preparation for -- a few hours of studying with a book called "Lobbying for Dummies" or something.

    Because except for the murder I couldn't identify a single illegal act in the entire movie. Lobbyists give money to politicians and the politicians do favors in return. It sounds a lot like bribery to me, and I know THAT'S illegal, or at least I think it is, but I don't know why, when it takes one form, it's called "lobbying" and is as kosher as Abramoff's restaurant that serves the best roast beef in the city, and why, when it takes another form, it's called "bribery" and you go to jail.

    I do, however, recognize a decent performance when I see one, and three performances are stand outs in this production. Kevin Spacey, a little older and chubbier, gets to do some of his impersonations -- Clinton, Al Pacino, and a few others, and he's good. Barry Pepper as Scanlon is terrific as well, as the emotionally unstable squeal cat. And Jon Lovitz is funny, no matter whether the part calls for a comic presentation or not. He's hilarious in some scenes, which I won't spell out.

    Not a masterpiece by any means -- "Barbarians At The Gates" is about leveraged buy outs and it's better -- but worth seeing once. I hope you have better luck in decoding the events than I did.
  • Kevin Spacey is truly an actor to adore. The Two-Time Academy-Award Winner has proved his talent time and again. In 'Casino Jack', he gets even better and delivers a superb performance.

    'Casino Jack' is based on Jack Abramoff. Abramoff, is one of the most notorious lobbyist's ever. 'Casino Jack', however focuses, on the time when Abramoff & his protégé went down hard...as their schemes to peddle influence lead to corruption and a brutal murder.

    Director George Hickenlooper does a good job, while Norman Snider's writing is flawed. The writing in the first hour is spot-on, but in the second hour, it falters. Even the culmination for that matter, doesn't leave the desired impact. Acting wise, as told, Spacey owns the film. He plays Abramoff superbly. He truly is an Icon! Barry Pepper is Excellent.

    On the whole, 'Casino Jack' can be viewed once, for it's lead star's performance. Must for Spacey Fans!
  • I confess to having followed Jack Abramoff's actual denouement years ago only as much as I could tolerate without gagging. My feelings toward lobbyists are mostly of disgust anyway. But to separate this work of art from the morality of its subject matter, I must say that this is a fine, fine film. Mr. Hickenlooper's death is a profound loss to all of us. I find Kevin Spacey and Barry Pepper at the top of their form here. The character and the situation give Spacey a broad stage to display his talents and range. Abramoff is no easy character to portray with any sympathy at all, and I had virtually none, but my outrage over the facts didn't spoil my enjoyment of the entertainment one bit. A tribute to all involved.

    As far as the abuses portrayed, all I can say is, I really hope the American citizenry somehow wakes up and unites to end the stranglehold that cash has put on our democracy. The utter hypocrisy and self-serving, greedy behavior of our politicians is harming us for generations to come. If they truly love their country, they must reject and expose lobbyists sacrificing our national welfare to Mammon.
  • 2010 seems to be the year that Hollywood universally decided to take its look at one of the great government scandals this past decade, producing both the documentary Casino Jack and the United States of Money, and this accompanying (albeit more fictionalized) account of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. After seemingly searching for a juicy role since his duel Oscar winning performances in the mid to late '90s with The Usual Suspects and American Beauty, Kevin Spacey is back in fine form and dominates the screen in this frequently enjoyable, though heavily flawed, rise and fall fable.

    Oddly, what makes this movie great also represents its largest shortcomings. The acting is as varied as Abramoff's excuses pertaining to the generous "donations" he receives in the film itself. Barry Pepper as Jack's right-hand man Michael steals scenes at a whim when given the chance and could have easily elevated the film further if given more screen time. Spacey is superb bringing a delicious blend of pompous charm and sleazy anger to the role, and even manages to deliver both a credible Sylvester Stallone and Al Pacino impression amidst the political turmoil his character eventually encounters.

    On the other hand, there are some disastrously misguided casting choices, beginning with Kelly Preston as Jack's wife and even though she exhibits some swagger towards the beginning to the film, she is unable to keep up with more skilled thespians as situations escalate towards the finale. The most egregious error is most certainly the inclusion of Jon Lovitz as the owner of a cruise line and casino who undertakes business dealings with Abramoff. Lovitz has proved himself a skilled comedian in supporting roles and did consistently great voice work on The Simpsons. Here, he is an unmitigated disaster, single handily sinking the picture on multiple occasions. He seems oblivious as to when to calm down, his camera mugging and inflections are grinding, and he is apparently unable to quit being Jon Lovitz and simply shut up; this is simply a poor choice by late director George Hickenlooper.

    The story at play is a fascinating one, and seeing Jack at his manipulative best even as his world comes crashing down is engrossing. The middle portion however does its bookend acts an injustice, sagging down the segments exploring the infamous lobbyist rise and his inevitable fall. Hickenlooper seems unable to decide how to structure the transition; not how Spacey handles the material pertaining to his character's downfall, but rather the jumble of events by which it is precipitated. Though the event itself makes for inspired reading in venues such as the news or a fact-based doc, perhaps there is not enough substantial material (or maybe too much) to make a fully compelling fictionalized account.

    Though ultimately less than the sum of its parts, Casino Jack is timely, passionately constructed and true to its source events. Abramoff is successfully made into the three-dimensional character that those close to him likely knew, and that the media was never able to (or more likely never wanted to) capture. Spacey is without a doubt a large part of this indelibly fiery characterization and strangely (obviously for reasons we will never know) seems more invested in this character than he has in any during the last ten years. Casino Jack's follies are all the more disappointingly glaring considering how strong the hard-hitting portions were, and though better than the average fact-based account, good enough is never good enough when greatness seems to be within reach.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Jack Abramoff was a very successful but very greedy Washington lobbyist who now sits in a federal jail serving out his 4 year prison term scheduled to released later this year. Director George Hickenlooper had the idea to tell his story and enlisted writer Norman Snider to put together the screenplay based on the facts of this true story. Hickenlooper spent 30 hours visiting Abramoff in prison to gather as much information as possible to add to their study of the historical documents upon which this movie was based. Oscar winning actor Kevin Spacey who plays Abramoff participated in one of these five jailhouse visits and he apparently hit it off quite well with the protagonist despite their being at opposite poles of the political spectrum. If you know the widely reported story of how Abramoff took excessive fees from multiple Indian tribes, was involved with shady business deals and paid off congressmen landing at least one in jail and causing Tom Delay majority leader of Senate to quit this position and his Senate seat, you may be a little bored as the details are played out. On the other hand, many viewers will be getting a great history lesson at the same time that they are seeing a very well done movie. Barry Pepper is sufficiently nefarious in looks and deeds as Michael Scanlon, Abramoff's partner who deserved more than he got for punishment. Jon Lovitz plays an almost completely serious role as a not so smart and crooked enough to end up in jail, business associate of Abramoff. Political junkies will love this movie. You can't help coming away from seeing it without wondering how can we let our political system continue to function without reigning in lobbyists. Hickenlooper related an incident, which he touches upon at the end of the film, where while in jail anticipating his release shortly before the upcoming 2010 elections Abramoff has expressed a desire to collaborate with the Democrats and reveal information that he knows about the Republicans in order to hurt them in this and future elections. While this film is scheduled for wide release and distribution prior to the November election, there is also another movie coming out at the same time about Abramoff, which is an actual documentary and may have the same name as this one. Instead of Kevin Spacey that one will star the real Abramoff.
  • The most awful thing about Casino Jack is knowing it is true, knowing all the good people being fleeced, taken for a ride, are real, knowing that the central theme of this story is alive, kicking and fuelled for take-off even now.

    As a dramatisation it works because we do not have to dwell on the complexity of the deals being set up, who is ripping off who, who is the biggest liar. The film's smart pace allows us to soak up the facts like ink on blotting paper and at our own pace.

    Thankfully we can lose ourselves in the characters, all of whom are played to perfection by a very strong cast, and all of whom resonate to the people we see and hear about on TV, in the media, even in show business. These are the folk who have more money than sense, or, more accurately, more credit and no shame if they can get away with making huge profits immorally. Less appealing are the players in real life who really are being torn apart through their desperation for attention, for expressions of interest, where any interest may be better than nothing. In this area we are left to feel morally lacking for not doing more to stop this kind of stuff. But the story simply keeps rolling along and we witness the demise of the main characters Abramoff (Spacey) and Scanlon (Pepper) just as it happened in real life.

    The opening of the movie sets the scene well into the plot where much of the twisting and double crossing has already begun to unravel. Then we are witness to the events as they unfold through the deals, the double crosses, and the nasty side of greed (is there a nice side?). As the credits roll we also see a couple of the real life events depicted in the movie played back to us, to allow us to judge authenticity. I wonder if this was the only mistake the film makes. I felt the film spoke for itself.

    As distressing and disturbing as the film's subject should be it is played out in such a way as we are information and knowledge gathering much like a media warning about "this is what lobbying really is". It is also a shrewd warning as to how shameless and immoral some people are when they are saying nice things to you, as if we needed a warning! I found it worthwhile to research the subject of lobbying a little more after I had seen this film and found myself disbelieving some of the things I have found out. This alone convinced me the film does not pull any punches.

    Watch it just to wise up. Fortunately it is acted so powerfully and so sharply you will not want to look away.
  • Both gobsmakingingly awesome in its (true) take on Washington and just way OTT look at the Beltway, CJ is just so good. Honestly, if this had been made as fiction you'd shoot it down as implausible - the stink goes how high? - but here we see lobbyist and senators in cahoots to get the dollar in their pocket at the expense of just about every body else.

    Spacey is in fine form, with a sterling support cast, and the film is best viewed as a buckle up and grin fair ride to the underbelly of politics - it really is so way beyond your standard black comedy or satire that it's just jaw dropping.

    We enjoyed CJ - it doesn't aim to be a political thriller or have any great message but it is a lot of black comedy and seriously messed-up situations from beginning to end.....

    Have fun now.....
  • How long can you screw someone before you get caught? The true story of super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff (Spacy) and his partner Michael Scanlon (Pepper). After finding a contribution loophole, Abramoff and Scanlon begin to exploit this and become very, very rich. I enjoyed this movie. I like true story movies, and I really enjoy political ones too. There was a lot of stuff in here I didn't know about. The amount he took and the favors he gave out are astounding. This movie really exposes the lengths that he and other senators will go to in order to get what they want. The movie is filled with different movie quotes from the "Godfather", "Rocky" and others, which is fun (Spacy is a pretty good impressionist). Overall I really liked this movie, and found myself liking Abramoff even less then before. The amount of money he through around to get his way is enough to make you sick, especially when you think a lot of our tax money went to helping him by a casino boat. Abramoff gets an F, as for the movie, I give it a B+.

    Would I watch again? - Yes I would, this is the kind of movie I like
  • "Casino Jack" tells the real life story of Jack Abramoff (Kevin Spacey), who at one time held a successful career as a lobbyist in Washington, DC. Abramoff, like most lobbyists, was paid by big companies and organizations to help convince Members of Congress to vote for or against certain things in the senate. The film focuses on a massive corruption scandal that led himself, two White House officials, and 10 other lobbyists and congressional members to be convicted. This film is an interesting and somewhat humorous tale of just how far greed and money will take you in America.

    I am not a news junkie by any means but I do remember this news story when it happened back in 2006. For those who don't recall, Jack Abramoff became a big focus in the news back in 2006 because he was convicted of fraud, tax invasion, and conspiracy. The film itself never really discusses his sentence however focuses on all the events leading up to it. Now given the fact that this is a movie, I am sure they took some liberties on the story to make it more entertaining. I will have to admit however that this movie seemed pretty realistic and seemed like most of it was based on fact. The people involved in lobbying probably fear films like this because I am sure it shows their true colors. The film really shows how anyone can be bought for the right price and the right amount of negotiation.

    Kevin Spacey nails the role of Jack Abramoff in the film. We all remember Spacey from the 1990's when he amazed us in "American Beauty," "L.A. Confidential," and "Usual Suspects" but recently his films just haven't been delivering. However, I am happy to say with "Casino Jack" I really enjoyed his role. It was a very interesting role, he was a little crazy, a bit of a smooth talker, but yet overall a likable guy. I noticed Spacey got nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance in this flick and I have to admit either him or Paul Giamatti should get it. This is the first time since 2005 where I think Spacey has actually found a role that fit him as an actor. He was really superb in this flick.

    Other than Spacey, there were some good supporting actors here. Barry Pepper, does a good job of getting the audience to hate him. He plays a young clueless womanizer who is also a lobbyist helping out Jack. Kelly Preston plays Jack's wife and she doesn't have much of a part but does add a little bit of flair to some of the scenes. Jon Lovitz plays a great overweight and clueless man who doesn't know a thing about bad investments. He like Barry Pepper's character is also a bit of a womanizer but than again isn't that how most of those people in politics are.

    The film was directed by George Hickenlooper, who oddly enough died before the film was actually released. This officially marks his final film as a director. I can't say I have seen any of his previous work but I definitely like his take on this story. It was a very dark and sometimes funny look at things. His vision for Spacey as I said above was dead on. Huckenlooper really unlocked the dark side of politics with this film and really showcased how everyone has a price and even the most likable guys can have dark side.

    Norman Snider wrote the screenplay for "Casino Jack" and really did a wonderful job creating the man known to the world as Jack Abramoff. With the help of Hickenlooper directing, Snider's script really made these actors seem like the people they were suppose to present. The script itself was very well written with great dialogue and focused on some of the key elements of the scandal. Snider did an excellent job with character development and that is really what made the film work. This is a very character driven story so its good to see that Snider made it his priority to focus on that.

    In the end, I think with the right marketing this film could have been a lot bigger. I was surprised to see how middle of the road most reviews were for this movie. I thought it was a really solid drama with some comedic elements and a great performance by Kevin Spacey. I also have to say that the tag line for the film, "Honor. Integrity. Principles. Everything is Negotiable" is a perfect summary for the movie. If you like films based on actual events with a well written story than you will probably like this. This is definitely a very political film and really does make most politicians and lobbyists look like complete asses but than again don't well all feel that way now? Isn't everyone in government a crook and about themselves? I think a lot of people tend to believe this and this movie only showcases that more. It was a well made and well acted movie and for that I give it solid marks.

    MovieManMenzel's final rating for "Casino Jack" is a 8 out of 10. Kevin Spacey's performance is worth the price of admission alone.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Ambition Is like the sea wave, which the more you drink The more you thirst—yea—drink too much, as men Have done on rafts of wreck—it drives you mad. Tennyson:The Cup. Act i. Scene 3.

    Jack Abramoff (Kevin Spacey) may be the most notorious lobbyist of all time: The fees he received from tribes with casino interests were in the millions, navigated through Mike Scanlon (Barry Pepper) so as not to violate laws placing limits on those fees for licensed lobbyists. This jaunty docudrama has the boldness of Abromov himself as it uses the actual names of politicians like Tom DeLay (Spencer Garrett) and Bob Nye (Jeff Postil), who ended up indicted for their parts in influence peddling. All the main characters have the names of real players, and while the film claims only to be "inspired" by real events, these characters were found guilty in real life.

    Spacey plays Abramoff as a wheeler-dealer who knows he's getting deeper in trouble but can't stop himself. His apparent good deeds for the disadvantaged, such as his schools, couldn't mask the shenanigans he went through to get enough cash to float the good deeds, his two restaurants, and off-shore casinos. All the time his wife (Kelly Preston) is worried because of late notices for the mortgage.

    During this time, certain Native Americans are on to his tricks and closing in on his exorbitant fees for uncertain profit to the reservations. In this regard, the story is as you would guess it—the rise and fall of a gifted but flawed lobbyist who couldn't abide by the rules.

    Although he appears relatively high-spirited and hopeful in prison, I have a feeling this upbeat ending may not be the way he spent his time. Events only "inspired" I must remember.

    Eventually even President Bush, who profited from Abramoff's ability to reap funds for Republican campaigns, would not sign a pardon for him.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I had the misfortune of seeing this film. I had thought it was going to be good, perhaps giving some insight into a political scandal I hadn't followed too closely. It didn't.

    The first half of the movie was mired in the land of bad exposition. Characters would come on screen and say "remember how we were back in college when..." or "Hey, it's so and so, a reporter for the Washington Post!" This went on and on. Meanwhile, all of the scenes blast along without any sort of emotional appeal, no characters to connect with, not a single person on screen to care about.

    Spacey is a great guy to watch, but here he's ham-stringed by the combination of bad script and worse direction. Even in scenes where his character is having political turmoil at the end of the film (as the real Abramoff is in jail, this should be no surprise) Spacey doesn't even sweat. Literally. He's calm and cool but doesn't seem to care about his character's dilemma.

    Overall this movie is glib. Some movies can pull off the pacing that this movie attempts and it comes off as charming, quirky or perhaps even a little sinister. Casino Jack doesn't. It's got a story to tell and it's going for the lowest common denominator in showing it to you. You won't get any subtle clues, no emotional telegraphing, no clever reveals. Just a scandalous story involving unlikeable portrayals, described with no style and with no real energy.
  • jnguyen4611719 December 2010
    Based on a real story and a real documentary releasing the same year, Casino Jack is just another fictional version of this fascinating story. Jack Abramoff, a super-lobbyist in DC, who's job is to influence the congress in voting the way he wants. In return, Jack gets a sum of money from the special interest group that the voting benefited. This job is perfectly legal and the law even states that Jack can accept the money from the groups. But in order to get the voting the way he wanted, Jack has to offer sporting events, private jets, hookers, vacations, and money to the congressmen that are willing to participate. THIS is perfectly illegal. In doing all of this most of his life, Jack found himself in a ditch once in awhile and decided to take the wrong path down the road. Performing illegal activities, involving in murders, and bribing congressmen. By the end, Casino Jack told the story of Jack Abramoff but did not tell a good one. Sure this is a fascinating story, but director George Hikenlooper added unnecessary elements to the story that made it a dull and uninteresting political crap. Kevin Spacey's Golden Globe nominated performance did help with the film's uneasy story-telling, but as good as it is, Casino Jack seems to fall flat while trying to shoot really high. OscarBuzz: Kevin Spacey, Best Actor (A slight chance)
  • Movies like this, Spinning Boris, Barbarians at the Gate, Recount, bla bla bla... A lot of the reviewers on this board are treating this like a real movie and complaining about the style, the pacing, the acting, or whatever. They don't realize that the HBO docudrama is a genre of its own, and they all are directed like this, and have this kind of music and structure and pacing and so on. If you've seen one, you've seen them all. They are fakey, boringly executed accounts of real things that happened, they feel like they take a million years to watch, and they really only appeal to people the first time they see one.

    Republican culture is full of sleazy, cynical con artists with big dreams that hinge on manipulating people and ripping them off. This movie is about two such men, Jack Abramoff and Mike Scanlon, and they are worthless people that no one with a soul can empathize with or relate to at all. Watching them make their plans and cheat people and be disloyal to their friends and lovers is boring. there's no entertainment value to it.

    In movies like this it is important for the screenwriters to feel that they've painted their main character as an irascible, charismatic character, rascally and witty, full of little zinger lines and whatnot. The real Jack Abramoff seems to be a boring douchebag, and he probably did constantly do impressions of celebrities, but I doubt he was as interesting to watch as Kevin Spacey (who is not interesting enough to save this movie).
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The movie is based on real people and real events. In fact a quick 'net search on Abramoff will give additional background on his crimes and convictions. It also led to Tom Delay, the "hammer", stepping down from his leadership position.

    Always great Kevin Spacey is super as "super lobbyist" Jack Abramoff. Obviously a very smart guy, the lines between legitimate lobbying and selling influence become very blurred in his vision. He has visions of grandeur and as a result needs more funds than he has available. This leads to his taking huge sums, upwards of $20Million to $30Million from native casinos as a fee to help make sure they are able to continue functioning without significant competition. In turn he uses most of the money for projects, like building a Jewish school, and a number of other illegal uses.

    Graham Greene (of Northern Exposure fame) is good as Bernie Sprague, the native American who figured out what Jack was all about and helped bring his crimes into investigation. Barry Pepper is good as Michael Scanlon, Jack's friend and co-conspirator who appeared even more easily corruptible than Jack was. Spencer Garrett is good as Tom DeLay.

    Everyone should see this movie, simply for its inside views of how Washington really works. Plus, it is very entertaining.
  • clg2389 January 2011
    The movie made a great deal out of Casino Jack's Jewishness. The problem however, at least for me, is that every time I looked at Kevin Spacey, I saw an Irishman. Whatever Kevin Spacey is, ethically, doesn't matter, but he looks terrible for this part. I found it hugely distracting. This is not a plea for stereotypical casting but for intelligent consideration of how actors come across. There were many inadvertent laughable moments in the film and also a few, too few, deliberate LOL moments. There were excellent performances by Jon Lovitz and Maury Chaykin—they almost made the film worth watching. I think part of the problem with the construction of the film is that the target audience had not been fully decided: Was the intended audience viewers who didn't have a clue about Abramoff, viewers who knew a little bit, or who knew a great deal and wanted to see it played out on the screen? I suspect the film is mostly viewed by those who know the story, and therefore it was annoying to hear all the primers, the explanations by the characters of the players and their history. Not a successful film, but I liked being reminded of this sordid story, which, alas, is an on-going story in American government.
  • I viewed Casino Jack recently. The story centers around Jack Abramoff who is a registered lobbyist. It is kind of an odd movie subject. Jack rises and then falls in a dramatic fashion even though the true story is pretty dull. Lets look at the different areas of this film. After reviewing the specifics I want to talk about Hollywood and politics.

    The acting: Kevin Spacey was the only reason this film is watchable. He delivers a solid smooth performance. Barry Pepper is becoming a first rate supporting actor. Spencer Garrett was strong as Tom Delay. Kelly Preston is a weak link. Not sure how she got this role ( I have an idea though). Her looks are gone and her mediocre acting ability is getting even worse. Poor choice. The rest of the cast is OK. GRADE B-.

    The story/screenplay: This film was written by Norman Snider. This is as bad as it gets. He gets most of it wrong. Making some stuff up out of the blue. He tries to tie the life long criminal activities and ultimate death of the SunCruz owner to Jack with no proof or even allegations. This was the only interesting part of the film and its mostly false at least in tying it to Abramoff. The dialog is more of "evil Rupublican" theme than anything. Of note, the director's brother is a Democratic Governor in Colorado. We make Tom Delay a focal point here. He had some ethics issues but none seemed linked to Jack. As time as gone on Delay has actually been vindicated in most common sense circles. The real story of Abramoff is that he got greedy at the end with shaking down Indian tribes and trying to get into the offshore casino business. One point the movie harps on is that the Bush administration didn't help Jack when it went bad. Well doesn't that say something for integrity that the Bush administration would go after this guy in the first place? If Abramoff could be so damaging to the Republicans, wouldn't they have left him alone? If this would have been a factual story it would have been quote boring and complicated. GRADE D

    The directing and technical aspects: The director was George Hickenlooper. He is awful. This film had a LMN feel to it. It seemed to have a decent budget but showed like a TV movie. This film was disjointed and not smooth. It seemed as the actors had very little to work with here. Again, Hollywood seems more interested in showing how bad the Republicans are than making a decent film that sticks to the facts. GRADE: D

    Overall film GRADE: C- (only because of Spacey)

    Now my big picture thoughts. Hollywood recently seems to be heavily invested in making mainstream films depicting the right as bad, evil, stupid, criminal, etc.. The logic seems to be lets use legitimate actors and films to twist facts and make some odd leftie political statements. Films such as this one, Too Big to Fail, Inside Job, No end in sight, Recount, etcc.. There seems to be a shift from the outright kooky Michael Moore stuff to a more "normal" looking films to further the nutty left look at things. I believe everyone one of these films has been a financial flop. Hollywood isn't good at listening to their customers. I suspect we will see more films like this depicting the right as evil and left as saintly.

    This got me to thinking. We must have had 10 medium to big budget films ripping President Bush over the last 10 years. Most downright silly and clearly financial losers. But.. what about some "leftie" films that could/should be made? Here is a list of films we could make showing the left in not so flattering terms. Most would be pretty entertaining as well. Here goes:

    1) "House of male Congessional review" Starring Rep. Barney Frank. Remember he and his partner ran a male prostitution ring out of their town home. You cant even make this up!!!

    2) "I am not a drunk, no matter how many girls I kill" starring Sen. Ted Kennedy. This fool actually killed an innocent girl either by just being drunk or something more sinister. Oyy.

    3) "Governor and mama need a new pair of shoes" Starring Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. This character actually tried to sell Obama's Senate seat!! This is gold!!

    4) "I invented the Internet and baseball" Starring Vice President Al Gore. How come this fruit loop doesn't have more media dinging him? He is a liar and a profiteer. He has made more money on the global warming scam than there are carbon foot prints in Europe!

    I think you get my points. While my suggestions may seem silly they are true and can be documented. Wouldn't a film on Blago be way more entertaining than Jack Abramoff?? I think it would. What about Barney Frank? This idiot not only broke the law with his house of ill repute, but it was his sponsored legislation that really enabled the housing collapse (forcing banks to give low income, no background check loans, Too Big to Fail must have missed this). Funny we never have seen Hollywood disparage any of these people.

    While clearly few if any Americans actually look to Hollywood for political guidance they sure seem to want to give it to us. I mean do you want to be told how to vote or think by most Hollywood types? Of course not. Many of these people have no education, never had a real job, are surrounded by butt kissers. (Did you ever see that video of Matt Damon prattling on about dinosaurs and voting for Obama?? It was quite enlightening. Lets just say you wouldn't hire Matt to work at the local Wal-Mart). Gimme a break.

    Hollywood, stick to entertaining us. You really should be better at it.
  • The movie was superb, with all the sarcasm and criticism one could imagine in the lobby business in states. Especially, the mimicry and flawless impersonation of Kevin Spacey makes it even more wonderful. For those, who admire spacey and his work, its a must watch. Witty jokes and all the inside jobs on the senate of the United States are fairly portrayed intelligently. George Hickenlooper, of whom we are not a big fan off, especially after a flick like factory girl, does to some extent pull this one off somehow. the movie never seems to bore you for a moment or so, and keeps up the pace. My vote is 3.8 stars for the movie out of 5. you wont be disappointed!
  • George Hickenlooper (director) and Kevin Spacey (Jack Abramoff – Casino Jack) have made a winner. Based on the true story of a Washington lobbyist who created the biggest scandal in the Capital since Watergate, the film is ingenious and funny, replete with first-rate performances. Casino Jack will be a box office success when it hits theatres.

    The Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff knows no limits to his hubris. Spacey's portrayal of the arrogant, manipulative, dynasty building political criminal is pitch perfect. Michael Scanlon (Barry Pepper) is the sidekick/accomplice...
  • jonnyhavey27 November 2010
    The past few months has been filled with highs and lows for the Hickenlooper family. Mayor Denver John Hickenlooper was recently elected to be Governor of Colorado while his cousin George Hickenlooper created his filmatic masterpiece "Casino Jack" also known as "Bagman." Governor elect John Hickenlooper even has a cameo as a politician sitting next to Senator John McCain in the closing scenes of the film. However, this success and the premier of "Casino Jack" at the Denver Film Festival has been shadowed by the death of director George Hickenlooper on October 29, 2010. Hickenlooper teams up with two-time Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey (Best Actor "American Beauty", Best Supporting Actor "The Usual Suspects") to create "Casino Jack." Hickenlooper is the dealer and Spacey is his Ace with his portrayal of Washington DC lobbyist Jack Ambramoff. He starts off as a harmless lobbyist, but is corrupted with wealth and power. He trusts the wrong people to get ahead. He gets mixed up with a man named Adam Kidan played by Jon Livitz (Santurday Night Live) and his connections with the mob. Ambramoff and his colleague Michael Scanlon (Barry Pepper) success is short lived in the casino business and are charged with fraud, conspiracy and tax evasion in 2006.

    The film has some of the best if not the best cinematography of the year beginning with its opening scene showing Ambramoff talking to himself while looking at his bathroom mirror. The scene is filmed with a series of brilliantly articulated camera angles setting the tone for the rest of the film. Award winning actor Kevin Spacey takes control of his character meshing his personality and personal touch of acting with the corrupt character of the man he plays. He works with Hickenlooper's mastery of direction mixing comedy with fast paced crime in order to end his film career on a very sad but very high note with this year's Oscar dark horse. The chaotic performance of Jon Lovitz helps create the dark comedic feel of the film and defines the meaning of corruption. Barry Pepper's character Michael Scanlon is even more corrupted by Kidan than Ambramoffgiven giving him some of the best dialogue in the film including one liners and memorable interactions with the other characters.

    At first glance the film does not seem very original and seems to have been on over and over again. The trailer to the film itself uses the Rolling Stones' song "Sympathy for the Devil" which just so happens to be the same song used for Oliver Stone's "Wall Street" sequel. Therefore, the film is very predictable and it is very obvious how the film is going to end.

    Hicenlooper's film is all about the attention to the little and simple details. The ego of Ambramoff is captured in many ways in the film, but the most effective comes from a very small reoccurring subtle action. Ambramoff's pride in staying in shape is expressed as he carries weights with him while he is working along with a statement that begins and ends the film. However, is this enough to save him? Ambramoff states, "I am Jack Ambramoff and oh yeah I work out everyday."
  • I must admit I knew nothing about Jack Abramoff before seeing this film. I'm guessing his story caused quite a scandal in the corridors of power in Washington DC at the time. I have never taken much of an interest in American politics, it seems very complicated to me and this film hasn't really changed my view. It's opened my eyes somewhat, but it only goes to show just how cutthroat a business modern politics is! I will give you my thoughts on this one after a very brief summary.

    This film tells the very recent story of Jack Abramoff and his associate, Michael Scanlon. They were lobbyists under the Bush administration. Their job was to find companies or organisations that wanted or needed changes in legislation. They would then, for a substantial fee, approach the various politicians they needed to get the job done. The wheels were often greased with large donations to re-election campaigns or similar. All of what I've said so far is, I believe, perfectly legal. The film tells us about their dealings with various Native American tribes and how they defrauded them out of large amounts of money in order to secure gambling rights. There is more to tell, but I'd better leave it there or the Spoiler Police will be charging me with misconduct.

    Although I found the film a little hard to follow I did enjoy the performances or both Kevin Spacey as Jack Abramoff and Barry Pepper as Michael Scanlon. As I've already said, US politics is not a beast I usually confront and I'd like to say that this film convinced me otherwise, but sadly it didn't. I found most of the characters quite despicable (no real surprise there though) and the way they go about their business quite deplorable. The film itself is pretty well made and the plot does make sense after a while, after several of the threads begin to pull together. I can't exactly say it had me gripped, but it was quite well made and Kevin Spacey did a pretty good job in the leading role. Sadly it's not one I'd recommend unless you're really into American politics, or really have to see all of Kevin Spacey's films.

    My Score: 5.4/10.

    IMDb Score: 6.3/10 (based on 6,457 votes at the time of going to press).

    Rotten Tomatoes Score: 36/100 (based on 90 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
  • In 2006, Washington was rocked when congressional lobbyist Jack Abramoff (played here by Kevin Spacey) was convicted for his involvement with his theft of millions of dollars from Native American tribes in exchange for his persuasive powers in government. Going down with Abramoff in one way or another and also featured in the film are his partner Michael Scanlon (Barry Pepper), Congressman Tom DeLay (Spencer Garrett), and mattress salesman Adam Kidan (Jon Lovitz).

    After Jack Abramoff was convicted and sentenced to prison in 2006, it was only a matter of time before a film would be released telling the unbelievable true story. Director George Hickenlooper, who sadly passed too soon in October 2010, took charge of the story and, with the help of a brilliant cast, made 'Casino Jack' a very fun & interesting ride. Nabbing Kevin Spacey ('The Usual Suspects') to lead up as Abramoff was a superb choice and Spacey was wholly absorbed into the role. Barry Pepper, one of the most underrated actors working in the industry, was also fantastic as usual. The script by Norman Snider ('Dead Ringers') was fresh, funny, and very entertaining, all while maintaining a solid amount of focus on the truth of the situation throughout its darkly comedic tone. As the story progresses and the situations become more & more outrageous (though still true), the mood deepens some and allows the actors to get even more depth to their roles. By the time Abramoff is ready to suffer the consequences of his actions, the script, the cast, and Mr. Hickenlooper's direction are all at their tip top. This makes for one fantastic final act that, even with knowing the story beforehand, is still head-shakingly brilliant.

    Overall, while 'Casino Jack' doesn't do anything new or original as a film, it is an entertaining & fascinating look behind the scenes of Jack Abramoff's scandal that rocked D.C. and set the tone for even more Congressional transparency.

    Final Verdict: 8/10.

    -AP3-
  • "Casino Jack" is the story of a government scandal, something we've become quite used to in this country. It was George Hickenlooper's last film. I'm not sure if the distribution was limited, but this movie lost money big time, and it didn't cost that much to start. There is also a documentary on this same subject.

    Kevin Spacey stars as Jack Abramoff, a lobbyist turned criminal, as if what he was doing wasn't criminal enough, though legal. The film also features Barry Pepper, Jon Lovitz, Rachel Lefevre, Kelly Preston, and Maury Chaykin.

    Abramoff (Spacey), who was staying within legal bounds as a lobbyist, gets greedy and with his business partner Mike Scanlon (Pepper) starts taking exorbitant fees from various Indian tribes supposedly to help them with their casino businesses. Of course, these were rival casinos and besides the fact that he was taking more than the legal limit of money, it was conflict of interest to work for several tribes. Abramoff uses the money to open restaurants, a school for Jewish children, buy a fabulous home, all kinds of things.

    The idea behind lobbying is that special interest groups - say, an Indian casino, pays a lobbyist who in turn pays congressmen to help smooth the way for the special interest via passage of laws, getting licensing, things of that sort. I don't know, I would call those bribes. Washington calls it lobbying. In one scene, Abramoff flies a bunch of politicos someplace and shows them a good time. We pay for that, by the way.

    When a front man is needed, Abramoff turns to a mattress salesman (Lovitz) to help make a deal. Major, major trouble is the result. Abramoff ultimately is under investigation, his good friend, Senator Tom Delay, has to resign from the Senate, and the subpoenas start coming.

    Kevin Spacey is excellent as the confident, charming, aggressive Abramoff, who thinks he has a lot of friends in high places. It's a big performance. Someone commented that they saw Abramoff interviewed and he seemed quite different from Spacey. Well, Abramoff was in prison at the time and I imagine by then he was quite different. Spacey met him and I have to assume picked up some characteristics from him. Barry Pepper is also top notch as the sleazy Mike Scanlon, whose massive infidelities cause a huge problem for both himself and Abramoff.

    Jon Lovitz I think was miscast. How could anyone think this idiot could make a huge business deal? The character should have at least seemed like he could do a deal of that nature. The way Lovitz played it, no one would take him seriously - and that includes Abramoff.

    This is a pretty sobering look at how our government is run, and frankly, it sucks. When Abramoff is supposed to testify before a committee, he fantasizes calling the committee a bunch of hypocrites. He was right. To hell with the public interest, where's my money.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Kevin Spacey delivers a wonderful performance as lobbyist Jack Abramoff, caught in a web of deception, corruption and utter mayhem extending up the ladder in the Washington hierarchy of government.

    He is equally matched by Barry Pepper, who gives a tumultuous performance as his cohort in crime, Michael Scanlon.

    The film shows the corruption of government officials as well and depicting Abramoff's greed for his downfall. Again, the Indians, as has been done in the past, are exploited for just about all they're worth.

    Politics in the film was never dirtier as shown by the senators up to their necks in accepting bribes so as to pass legislation favorable to Abramoff and his cronies.

    Everyone here seems to use religion as an outlet or as a way to justify what is going on.
  • p-stepien15 June 2012
    In a world in turmoil the world of politics, big business and the profligate space in between has been increasingly nominated to be the devil's Trojan horse in modern day society. No one better fits the bill of demon spawn than Jack Abramoff (played intuitively by a potent Kevin Spacey). Working as a lobbyist to the Capitol with intimate ties to the White House and Goerge W. Bush Jr. he as full access to the decision-making quarters and apt opportunities for political racketing and profiteering. Amongst his most pronounced victims Indian tribes in boom thanks to the newly developed gambling business. Money is the motivator, albeit Abramoff, unlike his partner Michael Scanlon (Barry Pepper), does have a misguided sense of communal responsibility, limited however to investment in Jewish educational facilities and development of kosher restaurants.

    A movie about a man, who wanted it all - power, influence and money - but caught fire by overreaching and losing perspective. In the end the high-life tumbles around him to engulf him. Such a strong potential story...

    But such an aseptic delivery. The events unfold in a leisurely, almost sluggish, manor, weaving the fabric of deceipt, lies and overblown egos. They do not however knit together into a well-prepped end result, but incite a sense of lethargy and disinterest, which degrades the plausible performance by the cast, fronted by Kevin Spacey. With so much substantive source material "Casino Jack" perpetuates a mean task by boring the hell out of viewers and fumbling to convey the magnitude of the downfall, mainly owed to a lack of focus throughout. not to mention that some key dots were never connected, leaving holes as to what happened and why.

    Thankfully the horrendous awareness that this is in fact a true story, with people cheated and taken for a ride, adds a subconscious punch to presented reenactments. Essentially it does manage to deliver a poignant message regarding the true nature of lobbying and its functionality. Abramoff's case was specific as he attempted to bite of more than he can chew, but the reality is that these are everyday shenanigans, albeit of a lesser, more self-controlled, scale. Despite the culmination delivering a sub-par punch, the message manages to burrow inside and create a well-deserved backlash at reality.
  • George Hickenlooper's final film - he died a few weeks before the release - focuses on super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his involvement in a corruption scandal that brought down some White House staffers and congress members. "Casino Jack" isn't quite as good as Alex Gibney's documentary "Casino Jack and the United States of Money" but certainly kept my attention every step of the way, just seeing how far Abramoff's reach extended, and how intricate the scandal was.

    Kevin Spacey, playing the disgraced lobbyist, shows him to be a slick-talking dude who essentially believes that he's doing the right thing by turning the US government into an ATM for the highest bidder. Meanwhile, he overcharges his Indian clients and helps keep a Mariana Islands sweatshop open. And it extends way beyond that! The look at Abramoff's family life is a little less engrossing. It's clear that his obsession with money has clouded his mind and he's living beyond his means, but it doesn't pack the same punch that the far-reaching scandals do.

    So, it's certainly an interesting movie to watch, just to see to what extent Abramoff's deeds turned the government into a bastion of corruption, but it's definitely not as good as it could have been.

    Also starring Kelly Preston, Rachelle Lefevre, Barry Pepper, Jon Lovitz, Graham Greene, Maury Chaykin, Christian Campbell and Spencer Garrett.

    PS: At the Golden Globes in early 2006, in the wake of Abramoff's conviction, Ben Stiller said "Why would the parents name their son Jack when the last name ends in 'off'?"
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