Playing for keeps. So this is about a likable lowlife (Jake Johnson). He has no long term plans or aspirations, but he likes it that way. For example, he parks cars for a living and has no problem blowing all of his pay on vices and just scraping by. He does have a serious gambling problem, and when a criminal who is about to serve a stint in prison pays him a visit with a duffel bag that needs safe keeping, he can’t resist the temptation to peak inside. Can you guess what he does when he finds rolls of cash? Now I just stumbled upon this movie scrolling through Netflix, as I was on the hunt to find something new to watch, preferably from the year 2017. I like Jake Johnson for the most part, so I figured I would take a chance. Win It All is very short and likable.
And it has very much to do with how Johnson plays the character.
Now these are funny people featured here, and in addition to Jake Johnson, there are also small roles from Joe Lo Truglio and the always welcome Keegan-Michael Key. There’s genuine talent featured here, and it’s really what elevates the film. What this movie does a really good job at is putting you in the mindset of somebody who is addicted to gambling. When you’re up, you’re up, so of course you’re going to get a serious rush of an invincible high, but when you’re down, you come crashing down in a fiery blaze of fury. Needless to say, this gets pretty hard to watch. He is forced to confront his problem, say that he is addicted to losing, and still has a serious struggle doing anything right.
Addiction is a powerful thing.
Now this is a smaller film, and I totally see why this went straight to Netflix. It is the type of film that could potentially get decent word of mouth at a festival like Sundance, but there is no way that it would ever drum up such a demand to merit a theatrical release. So much of this film relies and gets by on Jake Johnson’s charm, and to his credit, he rises to the occasion as far as being a leading man. Even at the end, you still get a sneaking suspicion that he could potentially mess everything up, but that’s what keeps a tension about this comedy.
Win It All (2017) ***1/2
– Critic for Hire