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Jerry & Marge Go Large


Stars: Bryan Cranston, Annette Bening, Rainn Wilson, Larry Wilmore, Michael McKean, Jake McDornan, Uly Schlesinger, Tori Kelly

Director: David Frankel

Everybody loves an underdog and the story of Jerry and Marge Selbee will warm the cockles of your hearts. It's like Dumb Money without the swearing, which may be why it's had such a limited release over here.

A reluctant retiree in the rather run-down town of Evart, Michigan, Jerry Selbee is a nobody to all but his wife Marge (Bening) and his few friends, who club together to give him a boat for his retirement present. After a disastrous attempt to launch it, when he forgets to uncouple it from his car, Jerry, an unheralded mathematical genius, turns his thoughts to the lottery known as RollWin.

He spots a flaw in the lottery, which 'ignores the theory of probability' and guarantees you win big...if you buy thousands of tickets. After an initial effort that's about as successful as his boat launch, Jerry invests most of his savings and starts to coin it in. Marge gets in on the act and, as the winnings start to mount, the Selbees form a consortium which aims to benefit the town and its shops, and even revive its defunct jazz festival.

Everything's rosy until the inevitable major hitch arises when a snippy Harvard student (Schlesinger) figures out the same flaw, wins big, then gets on to the Selbees' consortium and threatens to put them out of business by fair means or (mostly) foul.

Although you''ll struggle to understand such terms as 'enforce a rolldown', it really doesn't matter, any more than it did in Dumb Money. Cranston is subtly engaging as the modest Gerry, but it's Bening, lighting up the screen with a warm glow without even seeming to try, who steals this film. If you can find it (even on DVD or TV), it's a rewarding watch.

David Quinlan

USA 2022. UK Distributor: Paramount. Colour by Company 3.
96 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 08 Feb 2024