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'Jerry and Marge Go Large' review: No winnings to see here

Courtesy of Paramount+


Those who beam with Michigan pride anytime fellow Michganders are the subject of their own film with major stars attached (in this case Bryan Cranston and Annette Bening) will be disappointed in David Frankel’s hokey and dull comedy “Jerry and Marge Go Large.” A true story about how Kellogg retiree, Jerry Selbee and his wife, Marge, uncovered a major mathematical loophole in the Michigan lottery, Frankel, still trying to coast on goodwill from his “The Devil Wears Prada” days, doesn’t do anything with the material other than spin it into a feel-good comedy where the inhabitants of Jerry and Marge’s small community talk and behave like the outside world doesn’t exist. And it features a smarmy antagonist with minimal character traits and, like the rest of the movie, has zero personality.

Brad Copeland’s screenplay treats Jerry and Marge like geriatrics, which doesn’t bode well for crafting a compelling narrative, but nevertheless the airless comedy sets up the sting: Jerry (Cranston), through some miracle at his local diner, creates a formula that essentially guarantees he’ll win a sizable jackpot if he buys the correct number of tickets. He brings Marge (Bening) in on the action, who has been looking for something, anything, to spice up their marriage, which is about the only silver of character development she receives.

All goes swell until Michigan discontinues the game, thus sending the mathematicians to the nearest store in Massachusetts where they meet a stoner attendant (played by Rainn Wilson in the discount version of his character from “Juno”) and begin printing up hundreds of thousands of tickets. Along the way, Jerry and Marge encounter a group of smug Harvard students, run by Tyler (Uly Schlesinger) who is the dweebiest of dweebs, also trying to game the system. The eventual showdown concludes with the usual snark and ageist quips and Cranston giving the predictable, impassioned speech about right and wrong.

It’s a remarkable story-Jerry and Marge created a lottery pool with the neighbors which helped their struggling town get back on its feet-that is undermined with a toothless approach. Where’s “The Big Short” version of this story? You know the one with fun infographics, engaging characters, and something worth believing in? Instead, “Jerry and Marge Go Large” doesn’t go large at all, in fact it’s rather small and inept. At least the real couple are still wealthy.

Grade: D+

JERRY AND MARGE GO LARGE is now streaming on Paramount+


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