I saw a blurb about Kevin Spacey in this movie not too long ago that said something to the effect of “The kind of performance that made you love him in American Beauty.” That’s all fine and good, but that kind of fawning just seems like desperation to me. Like people should see this movie because it’s Kevin Spacey acting like he did in a movie you love.
I saw a blurb about Kevin Spacey in this movie not too long ago that said something to the effect of “The kind of performance that made you love him in American Beauty.” That’s all fine and good, but that kind of fawning just seems like desperation to me. Like people should see this movie because it’s Kevin Spacey acting like he did in a movie you love. That sends all kinds of negativity at me. Stop making those comparisons. I’ve liked Spacey just fine in more than American Beauty. Stop trying to sell me something just because it’s like something else. Frankly, shouldn’t that make you NOT want to see it? But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Moving on. Casino Jack, based on a true story, is about Jack Abramoff, an American lobbyist and businessman that got in way over his head when trying to fraud various organizations out of millions of dollars, mostly a number of Native American tribes and their gambling casinos. There is also a fair amount of bribing public officials. I’m pretty sure there is some sort of irony that Abramoff also spent about 10 years in Hollywood writing and producing movies. Like a Dolph Lundgren film. Red Scorpion, anyone?
Now, after saying all that about Kevin Spacey’s performance, I should state that he is actually rather good in this. Regardless as to whether or not he has a similar energy than any other film he’s been in, he plays this well. he plays Jack Abramoff as the charismatic, greedy capitalist he was, despite a seeming interest in doing some good things with his money. Apparently there is some Golden Globe buzz about this performance, which is great, but I don’t see this as an Oscar turn. He’s great, but I don’t think Oscar great.
Barry Pepper plays Michael Scanlon, his partner in crime, as it were. Let me just say that Pepper isn’t a bad actor, but he kinda gives me the creeps. He’s a strange looking guy. And I really can’t get past the fact that he was willing to do that Battlefield Earth movie with Travolta. I mean, sure, he’s a Scientologist, as most everyone in it was, but still. Weird.
Jon Lovitz is also in this as Adam Kidan, a failed mattress salesman that Abramoff reels in to partner in an off-shore gambling fleet of ships that doesn’t go so well. Lovitz is good here, too, funny, but I always have the problem that he is obviously…Jon Lovitz. He’s one of those actors that never changes his look, so he always comes across as sort of the same guy in everything.
Abramoff, with Scanlon, make deals to “help” Native American tribes by guaranteeing their casino success by saying certain people in Washington will support their business as opposed to other tribes casinos. They also make a deal (with Kidan) to buy SunCruz Casinos but do so with a fraudulent 23 million dollar check. That bounces a little farther than most, I’d guess. Through working with the wrong people, and some personal error’s, things start to spiral out of control. As a heads-up, don’t let your wife-to-be find out that you’re cheating on her, especially after you have told her about all of your questionably legal activities. You’d think that would be a no-brainer, but alas, not to everyone.
There is a lot of stuff here to learn about regarding lobbyists, and the man Jack Abramoff, and the Republican party. It definitely shines a light on what lobbyists do, and their role in politics. And Casino Jack is in no small way about the hypocrisy of politicians and their dubious innocence when taking money from special interest groups. In this way, though Abramoff screws up big time and is no angel, nor are the politicians that are his tools in the lobbying game. They take money, gifts, and perks, to forward someone’s agenda.
Casino Jack is a good film, but overall, I don’t think it’s Oscar good. But check it out if you want to know more about an interesting aspect of what goes on in politics and the world of lobbyists, with some laughs thrown in to boot. Or was the laughs part obvious? I’d say three and half kittenhands.
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, not having gained any faith in politicians after seeing this.