Jackpot

A disappointing tease of a movie, all low-rent glimmer and ominous hints of something awful that either happened or is going to happen — Flashbacks? Flash forwards? The Polish brothers aren't telling — during the protagonists' low-rent road trip through American dreams of glamour and celebrity. Sunny Holiday (Jon Gries) is convinced his road to singing...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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A disappointing tease of a movie, all low-rent glimmer and ominous hints of something awful that either happened or is going to happen — Flashbacks? Flash forwards? The Polish brothers aren't telling — during the protagonists' low-rent road trip through American dreams of glamour and celebrity. Sunny Holiday (Jon Gries) is convinced his road to singing stardom is paved with karaoke performances, a fantasy encouraged by his "manager," Les (Garrett Morris, of the original Saturday Night Live lineup); in fact, it's on Les's recommendation that Sunny embarks on a 43-city tour of woebegone Western towns. Les advises Sunny on his wardrobe, helps choose his songs (though if Sunny had his way, he'd never sing anything but George Jones's cheaply melancholy "Grand Tour") and tries to psych out the judges and the other competitors — all in the name of earning his 15% of whatever Sunny makes, which is frequently bupkis. Meanwhile, Sunny's wife, Bobbi (Daryl Hannah), is stewing at home: Not only has he left her behind with their little girl, but he took her car and she isn't the least bit mollified by the $1.00 lottery ticket he dutifully sends every week in lieu of financial support. Sunny and Les drift from small town to small town, ultimately heading for Jackpot, Nev. (100 miles south of Twin Falls, Idaho, where the filmmakers' first movie was set), the futility of their ambitions underscored by the droning voice of a fatuous self-help guru (Patrick Bachau) whose tapes they listen to in the car. Sunny performs at a string of pitiful karaoke clubs and makes a series of pathetic romantic conquests, including a sharp-tongued waitress (Peggy Lipton) and a trashy barfly (Crystal Bernard), who passes out and leaves Sunny at the mercy of her seductive but surprisingly innocent underage daughter, Tangerine (Camellia Clouse, in a striking debut). This dogged journey of self-delusion is interrupted periodically by snippets of footage — Sunny freaking out and ripping a cassette from the car's tape deck, some kind of police interrogation — that promise a dark revelation that would give an edge to the otherwise tedious goings-on but, sadly, never materializes. Written and produced by twins Mark and Michael Polish and directed by Michael, the film was shot on high-definition video, and the cinematography's gloomy glamour is one of its greatest assets.

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  • Released: 2001
  • Rating: R
  • Review: A disappointing tease of a movie, all low-rent glimmer and ominous hints of something awful that either happened or is going to happen — Flashbacks? Flash forwards? The Polish brothers aren't telling — during the protagonists' low-rent road trip through Am… (more)

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