Sunday, January 09, 2011

Casino Jack

Kevin Spacey stars as disgraced Washington "super lobbyist", Jack Abramoff in this "inspired by real events", docudrama. During the first Bush administration, Jack Abramoff was a lobbyist mostly involved in the gaming industry and in particular, Native American casinos. He had his fingers in many pies though and this is a fictionalized account of his fall from Washington grace and subsequent imprisonment.

As written, much of the film is played for laughs and it would probably be even funnier if most of what was going on at the time wasn't true. The situations are real and I would hope that the characters are enhanced "Hollywood" versions of themselves for entertainment value. Whether or not that's accurate, the film does have an essence of truth as to what goes on behind closed doors in Washington and that makes it scarier than amusing.

Mr. Spacey is great as Mr. Abramoff. He is so adept at playing these kinds of characters. He is also backed by a fine cast including Barry Pepper as his partner, Michael Scanlon, Kelly Preston as his wife Pam, and Jon Lovitz as Adam Kidan, a sleazy business partner. Mr. Lovitz is a terrific casting choice who balances comic relief and pathos in a serious part. Graham Greene and Rachelle LeFevre round out the major roles.

The film was directed by George Hickenlooper, who passed away two months before the film's release. He left behind a small but noteworthy body of work capped by the very entertaining "Casino Jack".

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