Sunday, April 30, 2017

Movie Review: "Win It All" (2017)

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Movie"Win It All"
Director: Joe Swanberg
Year: 2017
Rating: TV-MA
Running Time: 1 hour, 28 minutes

Eddie (Jake Johnson) is a gambling addict who is asked to watch over a criminal's bag of money while they serve a six month prison sentence. When Eddie decides to take a bit of the money to gamble with, things go terribly wrong. Now, he needs a way to replace the money he lost or face serious repercussions.

"Win it All" is directed by Joe Swanberg, who has helmed many films including "Happy Christmas" and "Drinking Buddies." It stars Jake Johnson as Eddie, who is a gambling addict who tends to lose far more than he wins. One day, an unsavory associate named Michael, played by José A. Garcia, is about to serve a six month prison sentence. He asks if Eddie can stash a bag for him, and if left untouched, he will pay him $10,000 when he gets out of jail. Curiosity gets the better of Eddie as he checks the bag to find it loaded with six figures of cash. Eddie devises a plan to take a small amount from the bag and gamble with it so he can make a little extra money. He will then put back the amount he took and everything will be hunky-dory. As expected for the life of a gambler, things don't go at all as planned and life quickly spirals out of control for Eddie. Also in the film are Joe Lo Truglio, who plays Eddie's brother Ron; Keegan-Michael Key, who plays Eddie's Gamblers Anonymous sponsor Gene; and Aislinn Derbez, who plays Eddie's love interest Eva.

We didn't know a damn thing about "Win It All" other than it is yet another flick in a long line of Netflix original films to be released this year. This is a comedy with some dramatic elements about gambling addition. As one might expect, it is quite similar to the film "The Gambler," only with a bit of a lighter tone. It stars numerous veteran comedians who put on solid performances. Jack Johnson's Eddie is a massive screw-up and is a total loser, but he is still charming and likable, which seems to be Johnson's wheelhouse. When paired up with any of the numerous actors in this project, they can't hold a candle to his infectious but erratic swagger.

Many people may not fully understand Eddie's problem as a gambler, being addicted to the highs of winning, but more often than not, is faced with the very big lows of losing. This is a very serious subject matter for a comedy and it does an effective job early on showing the dangers of gambling and the holes a person can fall into living that fast paced, tension filled, "known when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em" lifestyle. Much of the film is about a man genuinely trying to straighten his life out receiving help from people he has burned in the past. As the film moves towards its climax, however, it starts to send mixed messages about the problem and kind of drops the ball when it comes to the all too obvious finale of the story. Life is not hunky-dory when you're a gambler, but in a society that values winners over losers, the cliche-riddled finale is expected, but is uninteresting and unoriginal.

In the end, "Win It All" is a decent watch, but is mostly just "fine." Joe Swanberg and Jake Johnson continue their streak of making movies together with this acceptable entry in their repertoires, but we can't help but think this could have been a lot more biting and telling than a simple dramedy. Netflix started with some great original films, but as time has passed, they have gotten increasingly more mediocre, even with an exceedingly stellar amount of talent behind each project.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 92%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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