Review: “Win It All” Doesn’t Have Anything To Say We Haven’t Already Heard
There are good movies, bad movies, and then the kind of movies that fall somewhere in the middle. This weird space for viewers where you’re left feeling indifferent. Those kind of movies are the hardest to review because you can’t necessarily recommend it, but you also don’t think it is a complete waste of time to watch either. You know what those movies are good for? To put on when you have things around the house to do and want something to watch that you can leave and come back to multiple times without having to pause it. Something that can play in the background that will hold your interest for a few minutes at a time. “Win It All” falls into that category. There’s nothing wrong with this movie, other than the fact that it doesn’t do anything that hasn’t been done before. Films like “Rounders” and “The Gambler” and many more have focused on the gambling addict that wants to find a way to redeem his life through making the same mistakes over and over and hoping for a different outcome. If you’re going to make that movie again you need to add a unique twist to it, or a creative subplot that makes it more than just what’s on the surface. Unfortunately “Win It All” stayed above water with the script and lets you wade there for an hour and a half.
While director Joe Swanberg is known for telling unconventional stories, “Win It All” lacked that. Everything is pretty by-the-book when it comes to this film: a gambler that can’t stop and can’t win; a brother and sister-in-law that want him to the work for the family business and get his life together; a new girl that inspires him to live a better life; the addiction that won’t let him quit. As soon as you start the movie and get the basic story, you already know where it’s going and you already know how it’s going to end. I was waiting for the film to take a sudden left turn but it stayed on the same path until the end credits.
The film stars Jake Johnson (New Girl, Ceremony), Joe Lo Truglio (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Wet Hot American Summer) and Keegan-Michael Key: three comedians who are funny in everything they do but failed to really bring any kind of comedy to this movie. They all play fully realized characters that are interesting in their own right, but the story isn’t too concerned with their backstory or focusing on anything more than what’s happening in the moment. It’s just another opportunity missed in this film that has you wanting so much more but fails to give it to you.
I will say the cinematography in this movie was my favorite part. The look of the film is grainy and reminded me of watching old films on VHS; adding a charm to the movie that I wasn’t expecting. It has that late 80’s, early 90’s look to it that brought me back to a time when I would watch anything and everything and love them all equally.
A movie doesn’t have to take a stance on whether it’s a comedy or a drama because, much like real life, the two aren’t mutually exclusive. But there are films where it would have helped deciding which one it wanted to be and “Win It All” is one of those films. Either make this a dark, gut-churning drama or a comedy that offers a lot of laughs. Swanberg tried to blend the two genres but since it didn’t lean heavily one way or the other it coasts in this awkward stage where you’re neither invested in what’s happening or at least getting a few laughs while going on the journey.
I’m sure there’s an underlying theme that I’m missing. A director of Swanberg’s caliber always has something to say, I just didn’t get what it was with this film. I’ve watched interviews with the cast and crew where they all seem genuinely excited that this movie is out there and available to watch; it’s apparent a lot of hard work was put into getting this movie made. I just wish some of that translated on the screen, and because it didn’t, I’m finding it hard to recommend it.
“Win It All” is currently streaming on Netflix.