“Casino Jack” – 2010. Dir. George Hickenlooper

With Kevin Spacey, Barry Pepper, Kelly Preston, Jon Lovitz, Graham Greene and Maury Chaykin

“Mr. President, how are you?”

The story of “Casino Jack” is an important story, it tells the tale of Jack Abramoff who was the most powerful lobbyist in Washington, D.C. and influenced many Republican politicians by bribing them with money, trips, women – anything he could to pass conservative legislation. The most prominent relationship Abramoff had was with House Majority Leader Tom Delay – R, TX (who’s not in jail) and President George W. Bush.

While this film deals with the peak and downfall of Abramoff’s career, it’s just a terrible film. Kevin Spacey plays Abramoff but instead of playing a character Spacey plays a variation of himself. Spacey performs many impressions (which is known for in real life, and is excellent at) including Bill Clinton, Al Pacino, Ronald Regan and Dolph Lundgren (no, I’m not making that up).

I had a real problem believing how true Spacey’s performance was to the real Jack Abramoff. I’m a political junkie and I remember watching the TV coverage of the Abramoff hearings, and the Jack Abramoff I saw was reserved and tight lipped. Spacey’s Abramoff is eccentric, loud and has a gigantic personality. So in other words, it’s just Kevin Spacey being Kevin Spacey.

The fact that Spacey got nominated for a Golden Globe for an Actor in a Musical/Comedy is a joke and just goes to show that the Golden Globes are a joke and hold zero water. First off, this film isn’t a comedy, even though Spacey’s performance can be, at time, “comedic” if that’s what you want to call it.

The supporting cast is lukewarm. Kelly Preston shows up as Abramoff’s wife and she really doesn’t do much except nod her head and smile. Jon Lovitz plays a business man that Abramoff entices to pull a swindle between a Greek Casino owner and the Native American reservations that Abramoff is milking for millions of dollars.

The only salvation of this pathetically terrible film is Barry Pepper who plays Abramoff’s protégé Michael Scanlon who is Abramoff’s go to man for everything. Pepper seemed to be the only one to actually touch upon his talent as an actor, instead of just walking through his role that Kevin Spacey has become a master of lately.

My biggest frustration with the film is that I really question the authenticity of the facts and events of the film. Most of the major events of the film appear to be correct, but the dialogue between characters and interactions between characters don’t jive with me man.

I knew the film wasn’t going to be great, but the late George Hickenlooper directed one of my favorite films ever, “The Big Brass Ring”. His direction is just plain bad. The films flow is interrupted by choppy editing, a horrible screenplay and poor acting.  Hickenlooper’s biggest mistake is letting the film rest upon Spacey’s performance – which isn’t very good – at all.   This film is like one bad SNL skit that lasts and hour and forty minutes.

Rating: 2.5/10

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Author: Frank Mengarelli

Everybody relax, Frank's here. After going to film school at Columbia College Chicago, Frank decided to underachieve with his vast knowledge of film into a career in civil service. Frank had a brief stint as a film blogger, and then he met the heterosexual love of his life, Nick Clement. The two instantly bonded over their love from everything to Terence Malick to THE EXPENDABLES films. Some of Frank's favorite filmmakers are Terence Malick, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Sylvester Stallone, Oliver Stone and Spike Lee. Some of his favorite films are THE TREE OF LIFE, STAR WARS (all of them), BAD LIEUTENANT, THE THING and ALL THAT JAZZ. Frank spends his free time with his dog Roger, collecting any Star Wars collectible he can find and trying to finish his pretentious, first person narrative novel(la), LARGE MEN IN SMALL CARS..

2 thoughts on ““Casino Jack” – 2010. Dir. George Hickenlooper”

  1. Like you, I’m a political junkie myself and I had the same reservations about the character that you did. Abramoff was seldom heard during his trial and he never grand-standed so I don’t know why they took his character in that direction.

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