TV-MA. Why doesn't the MPAA give a rating to Netflix movies? Wait! Do I want the MPAA to get their filthy paws over something else? Never mind. TV-MA is fine.
DIRECTOR: Joe Swanberg
The worst thing I can do is catch up on my reviews. I then watch one movie and think, "Gee, I only have one movie review to do. I can wait." Five movies later.
I watched this during Spring Break as one of the first films of the warm weather. I set up the garage and had family over and we could all agree that this movie would meet the needs of everyone. After all, Jake Johnson is charming and my wife would leave me for him in a heartbeat. She might deny it, but I know she'd be a liar. I like him too, but I was hoping for something with a little more grit. So Win It All has the distinction of filling my wife's rom com needs as well as my need for human drama and ripping apart of people's souls.
At the end of the day, this is a story of addiction. The fact that it is a gambling addiction doesn't alter from the fact that Eddie has an addictive personality. Sorry to all of the Eddies out there, but Eddie just sounds like a person with an addictive personality. It's a bit on the nose. I know that Jake Johnson wrote the script as well and he definitely nails the concept of what reality around addiction must be like. I applaud the fact that he rarely relies on caricatures to tell his story. Eddie's life is terrible, but not unreasonably so. Eddie makes remarkably stupid choices, but those stupid choices come in scenarios that kind of make sense. But the most interesting aspect about this look at addiction is the fact that his road to redemption is not one that I see in Trainspotting, with people clawing at walls and climbing into toilets. Rather, people look at him like he's an idiot, but a good-natured idiot who honestly wants to repent. I really love the way this movie takes a turn. The moment that Eddie begins looking for redemption, we all thought we knew what direction this movie was going to take. We thought we were going to go through a series of scenes where we thought rock bottom wasn't really rock bottom. But no.
Eddie's low point is very human. Sure, the situation is larger than life. No one hands an addict that amount of money and says "Don't look at it." But his situation of making a small moment spiral out of control is very telling about the nature of addiction. Eddie did something that he knew was dumb on a small scale and it got away from him quickly. It was at a moment that he thought he was in charge and in control. This is what makes the ending so appropriately frustrating. There was no right answer when it came to Eddie getting out of this problem. SPOILERS BECAUSE I KINDA HAVE TO: Eddie's choice to gamble away a lot of money in a high stakes game and all of the sudden win felt cheap and perfect at the same time. Perhaps it was in Johnson's performance or the direction, but there is a turn where Eddie seems free of his addiction. Those aren't the right words. He will never be free of it, but he will move on from it. The heart attack may seem out of left field, but it also seems like a clean reset button on his life. He needed some physical verification of his change in personality. We could look at that moment as the death of the addict and the rebirth as the family man. As part of that, the movie really ends on a dead stop, forcing the viewer to wonder if he had really changed at all. Yet, and this might be all on me, I am convinced of his redemption. I seem hypocritical because I hate when someone does evil to achieve a greater good. But Eddie took what he knew. That moment seemed sacrificial to him. He stooped below himself to gamble in that moment and the devil returned in full force. We catch a glimpse of that evil in him, when he tries to gamble more than he needs. That is the nature of addiction and that is what the film is portraying. I kind of love it.
The love story is great, but it also is a bit confusing in the long run. Eva gives conflicting information and I find it ridiculous that she really is enamored with Eddie. (Bee-tee-dubs, I really hope I have the right name on this one. There isn't a ton of information online and I'm dropping names like I know who they are.) She meets these three drunk guys who are putting on an obvious show and that's cool with her? Also, I feel like there was a backstory that was dropped overall. It is somewhat of that Hollywood fantasy of a very attractive, put together person would be completely smitten by a schlub because he's funny once in a while. I don't really buy the relationship, but I'm sure my wife does because she's a doctor and finds Nick Miller adorable. Anyway...
This movie has got an amazing cast and I love how Netflix is promoting it as a Keegan Michael-Key movie. Let's establish: he is great in this. Considering that this is a dramedy, he walks that tightrope beautifully. He has very funny lines and perfect delivery. He also really gets the tone of the whole thing and never takes it outside the bounds of reality. He is someone who is genuinely funny in real life. There was one speech of his that kind of rang false, but it didn't really crush his character or the movie. I'm talking about the "repeat after me" speech. It went on just too long and felt like it was included for laughs or catharsis at times and I don't know if I really got that at all. The other actor, who is wildly ignored in publicity, is Joe Lo Truglio. I'm becoming such a big fan of his. Yes, I like The State, but when Lo Truglio shows up in a film, I know his performance is going to be solid. Like Keegan Michael-Key, he understands the delicate balance this film gives off. He's also in an unenviable position of having to make a stock character extremely rounded. We've seen the older, more successful brother taking care of a deadbeat loser and we know how that is supposed to go. Adam Scott did a phenomenal job mocking that character in Step Brothers. But Lo Truglio gives a performance where the character does his best in a crappy situation. Sometimes he is a bit too generous when he should be more guarded. Sometimes he is too harsh when Eddie need sympathy. But that is reality and I love that. His best intentions help Eddie when he needs it; it just goes slower than it should sometimes.
The movie is extremely solid, but I don't know if I'll ever explore it again. It is a fascinating look at gambling and the direction mixed with the performances deliver a nuanced look into this world.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.