follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

Microsoft Store

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif

Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Jackpot (2001)

"Sonny, what the hell was that? Who were you singing to, son? You're not in the showeranymore, man. You have an audience that has come here to hear you sing 'Escape' likeReuben Holmes does! They don't need your version."
- Lester (Garrett Morris)

Review By: Dan Lopez  
Published: December 19, 2001

Stars: John Gries, Garrett Morris, Darryl Hannah
Other Stars: Peggy Lipton, Crystal Bernard, Mac Davis, Anthony Edwards
Director: Michael Polish

Manufacturer: DVXX
MPAA Rating: R for (language and sexuality)
Run Time: 01h:39m:12s
Release Date: December 18, 2001
UPC: 043396069039
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Leaving one's normal life in pursuit of a special dream is a secret goal for many people. We admire the courage and impulse behind the average person making a break from the establishment in order to live the life they've always wanted to, even if that life is something we can't entirely understand. Sometimes, though, those who pursue their dreams really are doing something crazy, something that makes no sense. In the case of Jackpot, we root for the underdog, even though he's basically a loser. He's the kind of guy we'd likely not even notice in reality, but his fictional quest for success makes for great cinema.

Jon Gries stars as Sonny Holiday, a singer with dreams of making it big. He tours thecountry with his manager, Lester (Garrett Morris) playing gig after gig, hoping to finally make his mark. The problem is his "tour" consists of entering karaoke contests, with the final goal being the big karaoke-off in Jackpot, Nevada. He's left behind friends and family (including a baby), all to pursue karaoke stardom, which is both irresponsible and lame. To Sonny, though, it's his life's true passion. As he and Lester drive across the US in their pink Cadillac (paying for gas with pennies), they encounter some unusual people in some unusual places, but it never gets to them because this is the path they've chosen. The story is told in a different and mildly surreal way, primarily jarring the viewer back and forth with confusing flashbacks, flashforwards, and other techniques. It sets the mood for Sonny's quest very well, though, since his life is anything but normal and often moves into unreal places. One thing that is for sure, however, is that the world of karaoke singing is one that he and many others take deadly serious; a hidden industry neatly tucked away in the quiet bars and clubs off the deserted interstates and highways.

Jackpot doesn't really tell a conventional tale, and it doesn't want to. It's often disjointed, strangely edited, and quickly paced. It takes the mood of a typical road movie and flips it around by using those odd flash-forwards and flashbacks. It places all the characters, and the story, in a place that is close to reality, but actually lives just a step aside from it. I have to invoke the word "Lynchian."

What makes it all work is the solid performances. Worthy of first mention is Garrett Morris as Lester, managing a deadpan characterization as a man with Jedi-like wisdom about the ins-and-outs of the karaoke business. This is one of the best roles of his career, hilarious one moment, dead serious the next; a very memorable character. Jon Gries, rarely a lead actor, does a superb job as pathetic Sonny. It seems a hard role to take seriously, but he manages to have real empathy for his character. There are numerous fine supporting roles, including Darryl Hannah and Anthony Edwards, although they are only in the movie for a matter of minutes. Every performance is memorable and fits the film perfectly, but some are extremely short, particularly Edwards'. Country singer Mac Davis also pops up in a funny cameo.

On top of the acting, the superb photography adds an entire visual dimension to the story. Jackpot could have gotten away with being gritty and seedy in it's cinematography, but instead it bathes in gorgeous color schemes and amazing uses of "found" light sources. The scenes within karaoke clubs offer the most eye-candy because of the wild light schemes used, helping create the dream-like nature of the story.

Jackpot is a very liberating film for all these reasons. It isn't meant to really have a deep story or much of a message. The filmmakers experimentation creates something funny, human, and thought provoking. It's not so much that Sonny Holiday is admirable, but that what he stands for hits so close to home.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - P&S
Original Aspect Ratioyesno

Image Transfer Review: As I understand it, Jackpot was originally filmed in high-definition, in a 2:35:1 aspect ratio. The transfer reflects this and is extremely impressive—dazzling at times. The majority of the film is top quality, easily offering amazing, agonizing levels of fine detail and super clarity. The most subtle and soft details of small light sources and the rich color all jump out of the screen, without a hint of being compressed at all. The karaoke bar sequences, with their mixed light schemes and dusty interiors, seem as if it could be reached out to and touched. It's no small feat how incredible this level of detail is and I think it will really surprise viewers. The only minor thing keeping it from an official 'A+' rating is that a few sequences seem to contain slight color bleeding.

The flip side of the disc contains a pan-and-scan version that is, simply put, not recommendable. The video quality is a few notches down (about 'B'), but has a suprisingly minimal amount of compression artifacts and shimmer. However, the extreme loss of image ruins the entire feel and flow of the movie. It's a textbook example of how pan-and-scan really damages the filmmaker's vision.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby 5.1 mix is pleasing and very much fits the atmosphere. From the loud, rowdy musical sequences in bars to the calmer moments spent in the Cadillac with Lester and Sonny, the audio always manages to create a very filling soundfield that matches the on-screen action well. There aren't many directional effects, but the surround channels are well used, featuring ambient sound and improving upon the well recorded musical score. Audio actually plays a very important role in the film since it's used as a method of adding surreal or disorienting elements to the picture. The clarity of dialogue and accompaning center channel material fits very well into the rest of the speakers, and it certainly has a theatrical attitude. There is also a Dolby Surround 2.0 track available, which manages to capture most of the good points about the film, but lacks the crispness of the 5.1 and its multi-channel moments.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Twin Falls Idaho, Dogma,Pollock, The Tao Of Steve
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Michael Polish, writer Mark Polish
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The only substantial feature is a commentary by the film's creators, the Polish Brothers. The track offers a lot of insight and interesting information about the making of the film, but it's also a little dull. The two seem extremely unenthusiastic about the commentary. This may be the brothers' normal manner, but it makes the viewer feel uncomfortable. Unfortunately, they also seem conscious of not spoiling the movie ahead of time for first time viewers (how many people watch the commentary first?), so they don't delve into issues that I expected them too right from the beginning. Still, there's a lot to get out of the track, particularly general anecdotes.

The disc is rounded off with brief cast and crew bios, and trailers for other Columbia DVDs (like Dogma and Pollock). On a side note, I don't agree with the artwork on either the cover or the disc. It makes Jackpot look like a film about gambling or casinos, and in fact, nothing of that sort is even in the film. For example, the keepcase insert has pictures of the cast inside a slot machine motif, which literally has no place here.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

Had Jackpot received a more substantial theatrical release, I think there would have been significant buzz around it, perhaps even award talk. It's certainlyamong the more original offerings of 2001 and is a brilliantly off-beat take on the road trip genre.


Back to top

Microsoft Store

On Facebook!
Promote Your Page Too



Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store