by Julian Spivey
Director: David Frankel
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Annette Bening & Rainn Wilson
Runtime: 1 hour & 36 minutes
“Jerry & Marge Go Large,” which can be seen streaming on Paramount+, is a nice way to spend an evening at home with a good-natured, fun based on a true story of a man who found a mathematical loophole in the Massachusetts lottery and made enough to help out his struggling hometown.
Bryan Cranston stars as Jerry Selbee, a Michigander who has just been forced to retire from his factory job working for Kellogg’s cereal in Evart, Mich. and he doesn’t seem to know what to do with his newfound free time.
He realizes there’s a loophole in the state’s Winfall lottery game, which pays out for three and four correct numbers once it hits a certain jackpot if there’s no jackpot winner, in which you could win a substantial amount of money as long as you bet a certain amount.
Just after he wins and admits to his wife Marge, played by Annette Bening, that he’s been playing the lottery and winning Michigan eliminates the Winfall game. The only other state with a similar game is Massachusetts, so every couple of weeks when the jackpot is about to rollover Jerry and Marge make the 10-hour trip from Michigan to Massachusetts and spend an entire day in a gas station printing out lottery slips. The station is owned and operated by Bill, played by Rainn Wilson for comedic affect in the film.
The couple not only wins enough to pad their bank account but develops their own community fund pooling money together with their friends and family back home to help rebuild the town of Evart, which seems to be dying – probably due to a recession, though the film doesn’t explicitly say that.
A bit of conflict comes about when a brash Harvard student Tyler, played by Uly Schlesinger, also figures out the Winfall game loophole and threatens the Selbees with doxing if they don’t back out.
“Jerry & Marge Go Large,” directed by David Frankel (most known for directing “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Marley & Me), is quaint but it’s well-aware of this fact. It knows it’s a film for people just wanting to spend a little more than 90 minutes with a lovely couple doing some good in the world and it works due to the performances by Cranston and Bening, very believable as an aging couple that has been married for decades.
“Jerry & Marge Go Large” isn’t a Powerball sweepstakes, but it’s a winning ticket nonetheless that will put a smile on your face while watching and you’re not going to regret spending your time with at the end.