Win It All
Starring Jake Johnson, Joe Lo Truglio, Aislinn Derbez, Keegan-Michael Key
Actor/Director Joe Swanberg’s latest comedy Win It All, reunites him with producing and co-writer Jake Johnson (Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates). If you know their collaborations like Happy Christmas and Drinking Buddies, you already know the tone you’re getting into. Thankfully sans Anna Kendrick, Win It All feels less ridiculous than some of their previous work. Most of their films (and the ones at SXSW) deal with addiction, while nearly all explore adults arriving late to maturity and responsibility. Johnson continues to remind me of Joaquin Phoenix’s early work, and while he assumes this role unconditionally, it’s only an extension of his personality and in turn previous Swanberg collaborations.
His addiction isn’t as much gambling as it is making stupid decisions. Eddie Garrett (Johnson) has gotten himself into a real mess this time, bag sitting for a friend doing 6-9 months in jail. “I’ll give you $10k just to keep the bag and not say anything or look inside”. Eddie’s personality won’t allow him to abide the request. The money he finds inside the mysterious duffle bag begs to be gambled and solve all his problems, but only makes them far worse. In an attempt to get his life together, pay back the money from the bag before his friend is released, he takes a job with his brother (Truglio) who owns a landscape business. In the process of manual labor and adulting, he meets the girl he possibly could spend the rest of his life with.
Real moments of candor that are refreshing and momentarily funny.
Win it All looks like it was shot on a phone with the grainy presentation which in combination with being distributed by Netflix means this little film was never intended for a big cinematic presentation. The scenes with Keegan-Michael Key (Why Him), who plays the sponsor, are some of the highlights. “Admit you’re an idiot. Declare it,” he demands in one scene. Many other conversations are not engaging but Truglio adds welcome energy to the movie during his scenes of ball busting. Johnson and Swanberg write characters they seem to know and understand, the slightly below, average-joe that audiences find endearing enough to keep these characters on the assembly line.
There are real moments of candor that are refreshing and momentarily funny. Win It All has a delightful and somewhat unexpected conclusion, but it’s also the type of film few will remember long term. It’s entertaining mediocrity that’s neither great film making or a regretful experience. They allow us to experience these characters downfalls and mistakes, we laugh at their journey, but these guys are not interested in a message or lasting impression.
– Swanberg and Johnson deliver a satisfying adult coming of age comedy.