Rating (2.5 out of 5)
Summary: I don’t enjoy movies where I dislike the main character, and I didn’t like Howard. The movie failed to connect me to him and his underlying goal. Without that connection to the character, I didn’t care about what happened to him. The pace of the movie is frantic but what else would you expect from the Safdie brothers. My last complaint is the film was about 15 minutes to a 1/2 hour too long.
Plot: Howard (Adam Sandler) secures uncut gems from a mine in Ethiopia to help pay off his gambling debts. Howard struggles to auction/sell the uncut gems to accumulate his fortune while struggling with family and his love life.
Details: Adam Sandler was great, as was the rest of the cast. Kevin Garnett playing himself pleasantly surprised, especially in the final portion of the movie. Idina Menzel also delivered a solid performance which I didn’t expect.
The movie starts out in Ethiopia where the uncut gems are unearthed. From there we are swept inside Howard’s colon. That is how we are introduced to Howard, and except for one small segment, we follow him exclusively. He gets a collection call from 2 thugs, wheels and deals with Kevin Garnett and Demany (LaKeith Stanfield), and then as he pawns stuff to make bets. That was just the introduction in the first segment of the movie. It is a fast and furiously paced movie.
I enjoy fast-paced movies but I don’t recall a real motive for all the wheeling and dealing and gambling. He has a beautiful house on Long Island and a huge apartment in the city for his girlfriend. He drives a nice car and a pool that has recently been resurfaced. Why was he gambling, because he was addicted? Did he really love his girlfriend or did he just not enjoy family life? Was he just infatuated with making the deal? Without understanding the motivation of the main character, this was a soulless film.
Running at 2 hours and 15 minutes, there was plenty to be cut from this film. For example, there is a scene where Howard and his girlfriend Julia (Julia Fox) are kicked out of a club and fight on the sidewalk. Howard drives off in a cab, and we follow Julia as she walks away past the club. There wasn’t a need for following Julia and it broke the theme of only following Howard. There were other moments similar to this that could have been cut without losing the film integrity, and resulting in a wee bit shorter film.
For fans of Safdie brothers and A24 films. Please rush out and see this film. You will love it. For my parents, don’t see this you will hate it.