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Monday, August 15, 2011

Casino Jack Kevin Spacey True Political Film Review

Casino Jack is a completely unveiled look at Jack Abramoff and his wildly bold political scandals while serving as a Washington D.C. lobbyist.

When ever I see a 'true story' or a ' film based upon actual events' it makes me wonder, is the film really all that true?  Sometimes films malign history.  I do not know the extent of the truth told in Casino Jack, but I have to suspect it is largely true.  Why?  Simply because Casino Jack is written with all the actual names of those involved in the scandal. It would simply be too brash to lie and risk the lawsuits, etc.  I could be wrong though.  That said, there are a lot of names thrown around George Bush and  Tom DeLay come to mind as well as a host of other real behind the scenes figures. Their is no hiding the true players involved with the corruption.

The film's trailer is excellent and really made me want to watch this flick. As promised in the trailer, the film moves at the fast pace. A pace typical of most white collar-workaholic films.  Jet set travel, 5 star hotesl, exotic locations and lots of money and back room deals.  

I was let down by Casino Jack because I expected a more funny movie.  Sure, it is a 'true story' and all, and maybe the facts are not that funny, but the trailer had me thinking this would be more of a hilarious romp.  This film couldn't figure out if it was a comedy or a historical story and was unable to hit the mark in between.

Kevin Spacey is good as always but, seeing the real Jack Abramoff on the news, I could not associate Spacey with the athletic, viral looking Abramoff.  Spacey definitely adds a very human side, a side you sometimes cheer, to his amoral Abramoff character but I felt his more comic lines, especially his quoting of movie lines and voice impressions to be slightly cringe worthy rather than funny.

Barry Pepper does a decent job as Abramoffs right hand man Michael Scanlon and is probably the only character that really adds some panache to this flick. His performance is convincing as the arch-typical high speed, free wheeling, amoral soul of ambition but, in spite of the considerable screen time he gets, his role doesn't prop up the film significantly.

The one actor who I thought would save the day was John Lovitz as the shady business partner of Abramoff, Adam Kidan. His role is as goofy, amoral and (intentionally) without class as any he has played. He is corrupt, sloppy and rich.  He does a respectable job but I really thought his part could have really made the film a more fun romp to watch.  Instead, the direction takes this character down a more seedy path that make him look more pathetic that haplessly hilarious.  Of course, again, this is a true film and perhaps the direction of Kidan's partner actually is the way Adam Kidan was.  If that is the case, Jon Lovitz, a normally good comedic supporting character was probably a bit over matched for the part of Adam Kidan.

All in all, in spite of my not so rosy review, the film definitely has value in helping people understand what happened during the Abramoff affair (that is if it is as true as it might be).  Political junkies will enjoy the film and audiences in general I feel will have mixed reviews.  Some will like it and some will not.  

I'm somewhere in between.

Rated R
108 Minutes

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