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The sordid tale of lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his greedy, felonious power plays during the glory days of the W. presidency are fine fuel for the antic romp Kevin Spacey turns out in Casino Jack. Spacey's signature twist of smug sincerity and self-satisfaction perfectly suits the portrait of a man whose morals are so corrupt and ego so glorified that he truly believes he's doing God's work at the same time he's swiping cash from every opportunistic situation he can wrangle. As a companion piece to Alex Gibney's equally entertaining documentary Casino Jack and the United States of Money, this comic rendering of a political life led with such impolitic indiscretion ramps the ridiculousness of Abramoff's schemes up several notches thanks to a liberal dose of dramatic license. Nevertheless, the events portrayed are real--the ploys to defraud Indian tribes, the bumbling forays of entrepreneurship, the ballsy attempts at misdirection once misdeeds spiral out of control--as are many of the major players. Director George Hickenlooper (who died at age 47 just days before the film's opening in late 2010) has no compunction about magnifying the ethical warts of historical players such as Tom DeLay, Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist, and Karl Rove as they act out the real-life sketch comedy of what really happened in the corridors of the Capitol and the conference rooms of K Street. Because it does come off as high-end sketch comedy, Casino Jack sometimes feels a little sketchy in its execution, but the cast is uniformly excellent in making scenes crackle with hilariously vituperative flair. Especially good are Barry Pepper as Abramoff's oily cohort, Jon Lovitz as a doltish, mobbed-up mattress salesman, and the late Maury Chaykin as a seemingly harmless mafia functionary who's way more dangerous than his clownish exterior betrays. But the movie belongs to Spacey as a man obsessed with his own importance. This Abramoff, who worked as a C-list producer early in his career, still fancies himself a Hollywood-type player even as the A-list plots he scripts in Washington end up filled with holes. Spacey apes and mugs with typically borderline-manic panache, giving masterful insight into the master of a universe that exists almost entirely in his own avaricious mind. --Ted Fry
List Price: $14.98
Rating: R (Restricted)
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Actors: Kevin Spacey Barry Pepper Jon Lovitz Ruth Marshall Graham Greene
Size: 7.5000" x 5.3000"
Weight: 0.2000 lbs.
Language: English, Spanish, English