The main reason to see Jackpot is to see how normal it looks. It looks like any other film, a little on the independent side, with just a few fuzzy scenes. The Polish brothers, Michael and Mark (Twin Falls Idaho) filmed Jackpot using a Sony 24P HD camcorder, similar to the one George Lucas is using to film Star Wars: Episode II. Some think that the digital format is the future of filmmaking, and it will replace film as the standard. Whether it does or not, it is clear that one can make a film look just as good with the latest technology (and for a lot cheaper). The next step, the one the Polish brothers neglected, is to film an engaging movie. This is the second film in a proposed trilogy, after Twin Falls Idaho and the forthcoming Northfork.

It is hard to get into the story of Sunny Holiday (Jon Gries, The Beat Nicks, Twin Falls Idaho), a wannabe singer touring karaoke bars and winning money with his manager Lester Irving (Garrett Morris, Graham's Diner, Twin Falls Idaho). George Jones' Grand Tour is Holiday's song of choice. He is basically a loser, dreaming of becoming something better. Because Holiday is not that successful, he and Irving also sell soap. Holiday is following a hopeless dream. He clings to the dream, hoping for something better, and refuses to let go. His wife Bobbi (Darryl Hannah, Hide and Seek, Ring of Fire) is angry with him for abandoning her and their child.

The Polish brothers jump around in time, throwing in snippets of later scenes out of sequence. For a film where not much is happening, this does not add anything. Jackpot meanders the same way that Holiday does. He travels from bar to bar, never really accomplishing anything, never moving closer to his goal. He is in a holding pattern. His story is not that interesting, and neither are his seemingly random adventures. He hooks up with a waitress, and later with a girl in a bar but almost goes for her daughter. Yawn. The largest elements of conflict usually arise when Lester and Holiday cannot agree on a song to sing.

If anything, the Polish brothers get the look of the film right. The karaoke bars look seedy and smoke-filled, with tacky lighting. This is another world that Holiday travels through. Gries looks the part, with a long moustache and chops under a slightly balding head. His look screams 'wannabe cowboy.' As presented, Holiday does not have much of a personality, and combined with the languid pace, inspires a lot of boredom. The Polish brothers seem content to explore whatever interests them, with no regard for what interests the viewer.

Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 35 minutes, Rated R for language and sexuality.

Back to Movies