Friday, April 14, 2017

[Review] Win It All

Indie/mumblecore director Joe Swanberg teams up with frequent collaborator Jake Johnson for the Netflix Original film Win It All. Luckily, this latest effort sees the director/actor duo at their very best.

Eddie (Johnson) is a hardcore gambling addict. The "I promise I'll pay you back" guy. A real-life, version of Oskar from "Hey Arnold!" One day, he's suddenly tasked with watching over a duffle bag of $50,000 for an acquaintance who's serving a jail sentence (Eddie obviously isn't the best guy for the job). Of course, he blows through the money, and has to work to get it all back before his "buddy" gets out.

There's a major sense of immediacy here. The picture is presented in a grainy filter, giving the film a raw, old-school vibe and almost documentary-like look of realism. Joe Swanberg's familiar themes of childlike adults growing up and getting their lives together are there, but it's much more entertaining this time around. For one, it's a lot funnier, and it also carries a more momentous, mainstream-friendly structured narrative while still maintaining the detailed character study and interpersonal relationship elements that Swanberg has become known for. This is the kind of role that is perfect for Jake Johnson, who also serves as a co-writer. And even though it's easy to get pissed off at Eddie's terrible decisions, he has enough redeeming qualities to make us root for him too.

The film also comes with a really good supporting cast. Funny guy Keegan-Michael Key plays Eddie's dedicated and frustrated sponsor. Mexican TV star Aislinn Derbez plays a sweet single mother who Eddie begins dating. And the always solid Joe Lo Truglio plays Eddie's tough-loving older brother who reluctantly keeps giving him chances.

So yeah. Roll the Netflix dice and take a shot at this one. You can't lose.

( 8/10 )

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