Set in the cutthroat world of professional karaoke singers, Jackpot is another dreamy reverie from brothers Mark and Michael Polish, whose Twin Falls, Idaho (1999) established their penchant for funereal pacing, soothing visuals and what seemed to me, anyway, a wholly willed quirkiness. Unlike the films of David Lynch, to whom they’re often compared, the off-center mood and non sequitur plotting of their movies don’t seem to flow naturally from some undigested need, but rather to be cobbled from some calculated place. They seem less like natural oddballs than professional ones. Only the sentimentality, which flows just beneath their arabesque surfaces, seems real.
Jackpot is basically a buddy movie, a tale of the often strained but unbreakable bond between karaoke champ Sunny Holiday (Jon Gries) and his world-weary manager Lester Irving (Garrett Morris). Sunny is a dubious character: On the one hand he’s abandoned his wife (Daryl Hannah) and child to go on a tour of karaoke competitions, sending them a $1 lottery ticket each week for “support,” while on the other he doesn’t seem so much a bad person as a terminally spacey one who actually thinks he can win fame and fortune doing mediocre versions of other people’s songs.
Lester, by contrast, is a live wire. He believes in his boy Sunny, gives him pep talks, minisermons, and motivational shoves. Morris seems to be giving a really fine performance — insinuating, crafty, nuanced. But then in a mise-en-scène so lulling, any sign of life is bound to make an impression.
Opens Friday exclusively at the Main Art Theatre (118 N. Main, Royal Oak). Call 248-542-0180.
Visit the official Jackpot Web site at sonyclassics.com/jackpot.
Richard C. Walls writes about the arts for Metro Times. E-mail him at [email protected].