Combustible Celluloid
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With: Kevin Spacey, Barry Pepper, Kelly Preston, Jon Lovitz, Graham Greene, Eric Schweig, Ruth Marshall, Hannah Endicott-Douglas, John Robinson, Jason Weinberg, Spencer Garrett, Yok Come Ho, Anna Hardwick, John David Whalen, Matt Gordon, Jeffrey R. Smith, Christian Campbell, Xenia Siamas, Rachelle Lefevre, David Fraser, Maury Chaykin
Written by: Norman Snider
Directed by: George Hickenlooper
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive language, some violence and brief nudity
Running Time: 108
Date: 09/16/2010

Casino Jack (2010)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Lobby Horse

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The biggest asset in Casino Jack is Kevin Spacey, back with the cynical, snappy type of character he made so memorable in American Beauty. He's clearly enjoying every manic moment here, throwing in the occasional celebrity impression besides, and the screenplay by Norman Snider does a nice job of feeding his frenzy.

Jack Abramoff (Spacey) is a "superlobbyist" in Washington D.C. with connections and influences all over town. As the film begins, we see him conning American Indian tribes out of millions of dollars in exchange for his services. He and his partner Michael Scanlon (Barry Pepper) also become involved with a small-time, mafia-connected hood (Lovitz) and some floating casinos. He brags about using these profits to open restaurants and schools, but he always seems to be running low on cash and always looking for the next scam. Eventually, Jack and Michael go too far and their high-priced world begins to tumble down around them.

Director George Hickenlooper -- who passed away in October of 2010 -- can't quite fine-tune the movie into the tight comedy it should have been; it's a little uneven in places and a little wobbly in others. But to its credit, the movie gambles on a really nasty lead character and doesn't bother with trying to make him "likeable." The movie knows that Jack is a terrible person, and allows the audience to know that, too. The trick is that Jack doesn't know it. Overall, it's an interesting, funny and irreverent portrait of our troubled times.

There isn't much room for others in this kind of one-man show, but Jon Lovitz gets in some nice moments as the sleazy, small-time hood.

Fox's high-quality Blu-Ray comes with a featurette, gag reel and deleted scenes.

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