In ‘Win it All’” Jake Johnson is a Gambler Who Puts it All On the Line

By Sophie Bennett, Staff Writer

 

“Win it All” is not your average run of the mill gambling story, as Jake Johnson’s new quirky comedy gives a different look to the risky life of betting. Directed by Joe Swanberg, the film tells the story of Eddie Garrett (Johnson), a gambling addict who lives his life purely in the moment. During a time when he is especially down on his luck, his old acquaintance Michael approaches Garrett with a proposition — simply watch a bag, though Garrett is not allowed to open it. The film appears as turning point for Johnson’s normally goofy and somewhat forgettable array of roles, giving a more dramatic and complex performance.

 

Against the instructions, Garrett’s curiosity wins him over. After opening the bag, he finds thousands of dollars. With a small attempt to avoid taking the cash by visiting his sponsor (Keegan Michael-Key) he eventually gives into his temptation and takes the money for gambling. After a tumultuous set of wins and loses, Garrett finds himself piled with a large debt.

 

This time, however, he decides to make a change and joins his brother’s landscaping business to make the money back. He also begins a healthy relationship with a responsible mom (Aislinn Derbez) and soon learns the benefits of normalcy in his life.

 

When Michael calls Garrett explaining his early release from prison, he is put at a crossroads with only a week to make up $20,000. He is forced to either find a way to put keep himself on the straight-and-narrow or go back to the life as a nomad. The most interesting aspect of the film is how it portrays the very real black and white difference between leading a life without gambling and a life with it. The contrast makes the characters’ poor decisions even more heartbreaking and frustrating for the audience.

 

“Win it All” gives Johnson the opportunity to shine in a much more dimensional role than he usually plays in this exciting and intriguing indie. Johnson’s depiction of Garrett was lovable as well as realistic and was the only memorable performance in the movie, as the rest of the characters were very supporting compared to Johnson’s role.

 

Without exaggerations or running on too long “Win it All” is able to show a man’s journey to adulthood thoughtfully. With a main character to root for as well as scold, the film ends just as strongly as it begins. Incredible pacing and tension ensure the film to be a memorable one as well as inspire new interest in Swanberg and Johnson collaborations for the future.

 

“Win It All” opened in theaters on April 7.

 

Email Sophie Bennett at film@nyunews.com.

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