MOVIE: *1/2 (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Kevin Spacey stars in this award-bait film about Jack Abramoff, a real-life Washington lobbyist who was finds himself in jail after charges of corruption. Told primarily in flashback form, “Casino Jack” examines the complex business dealings that brought the charges of corruption and how Abramoff handled the situation which got quickly out of control.
WHAT I LIKED
For all of its foibles, “Casino Jack” has spirit and spunk. It plays like a labor of love, and the people behind it and acting in it are really hoping to make a difference. Sadly, that didn’t work very well because audiences and critics seemed to have forgotten this movie as soon as it came out. But the heart is there.
I did like the delivery of the film, and how it was assembled. The vision behind it was solid, offering a punchy look at political lobbyists, trying to boil it all down for the average person to understand. And overall, the film is well acted.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Recently, I had the chance to see the film “The People Versus George Lucas,” which rips apart the filmmaker for all of the things he’s done to the “Star Wars” franchise. While that film made some good points (yes, Han shot first; yes, Jar Jar Binks was annoying), it just seemed too little too late. Had it come out in 2006, on the heels of “Revenge of the Sith,” it would have meant something… but five years later, not so much.
I feel the same way about “Casino Jack,” which would have been far more pertinent had it come out two years before it had. By the time it was released, the politics behind the story was old news. Everyone was out of office, and its finger-pointing was all for naught. Plus, it tackled such a complicated issue, the entire film reminded me of the classic “Saturday Night Live” sketch from the early 1990s in which they faked a “We Are the World” video to explain the Whitewater scandal.
Finally, while this film is pretty well acted, I got extremely annoyed with Kevin Spacey doing impressions of movie stars. I know this was Jack Abramoff’s shtick, but it became more of a showpiece to demonstrate Spacey’s impressionistic abilities rather than tell a decent story.
This disc comes with some features, but not many, and definitely not enough to push a buy or rent if you’re not interested in the political angle of the feature itself. There’s a gag reel and a group of deleted scenes. The only other bonus feature is “Casino Jack: A Director’s Photo Diary,” which amounts to not much more than another version of a production stills slideshow.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
People who really want to stick it to George W. Bush a couple years too late and those who don’t get annoyed at Kevin Spacey’s Hollywood impersonations.