Casino Jack (2010)
You know those movies that aren’t at all impressive but don’t necessarily leave a bad taste on your palate either? They don’t blow you away with comical lines nor dramatic scenes nor thrills or action…yet they weren’t awful? Well, I would love to say Casino Jack wasn’t one of those movies. But it was.
A portrait of the life of criminal lobbyist Jack Abramoff (you know the story…Abramoff lobbied a little too tough on Native Indian casinos, landing himself in a bit of trouble and spending some time in jail–deemed “the new Watergate” in the movie), Casino Jack follows the Washington insider from his rise in the casino biz to his subsequent fall. (Since this blog does focus on film, I suppose it’s fitting to mention that Abramoff also dabbled a bit in Hollywood, producing and writing Red Scorpion, a 1988 Dolph Lundgren movie that currently holds a 4.3 user rating on IMDb.)
Kevin Spacey is solid, but with a professional reputation like his, solid is a bit disappointing. Who the hell is Barry Pepper? Apparently he played Roger Maris in “61*” and Dean Stanton in The Green Mile, but I would’ve never guessed he had such a résumé by seeing this. He’s awfully peculiar and plays the self-gratifying prick, Abramoff’s right-hand man, Michael Scanlon. Now I remember why I don’t enjoy Jon Lovitz! From A League of Their Own to “SNL,” his incredibly annoying, irritating voice proves too much. He can’t play a likable character, just low down, self-admitted scumballs that can’t seem to catch a break but don’t really care. If we never had to hear that voice again, the world would be all the better for it.
Who knew Spacey was such an impressionist? While obviously doing Abramoff throughout the entire movie, his character also impersonates Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Rocky, and more…all pretty well! He did get a Golden Globe nomination for the role, which is a bit surprising. I mean, Spacey plays characters with personalities similar to Jack Abramoff often, so in a way he was born for the role (besides the lack of comparable looks), but I suppose it was a weak year for Musical/Comedy leading men.
While the movie doesn’t blow me away in really any way, at the very least it can claim some educational value. I feel my knowledge of Abramoff’s story is raised a bit, so that’s always a plus. But otherwise, this one is probably worth skipping.