Review by Sean Boelman
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, it has seemed that adult-oriented dramas have become a thing of the past — or at least a rarity — as multiplexes are generally either being filled with heavy-hitter franchise fare or low-risk, low-reward indies. Well, Paramount+ has come to the rescue with Jerry & Marge Go Large, a fun and wholesome film that fills a niche we haven’t seen many movies in as of late.
The film tells the story of a pair of married retirees who discover a mathematical loophole in the lottery and use the money to revive their ailing small town. And while the story of two people cheating the lottery might not sound too exciting, they did a good job of not taking too technical of an approach.
The movie doesn’t waste too much time on the logistics of how the characters took advantage of the loophole, instead focusing on the human aspect of the story. Yes, the story of someone taking advantage of the lottery system is interesting, but writer Brad Copeland realizes what this actually is: the story of two people in love.
One of the best things about this film is that it doesn’t blow its story out of proportion. A lot of movies that are based on stranger-than-fiction true stories like this try to turn them into something bigger than they are, but this is a contained story, and the script and direction thankfully treat it as such.
The film is effectively a showcase for its lead actors Bryan Cranston and Annete Bening. This is a particularly interesting role for Cranston, who doesn’t get much of an opportunity to flex his comedic muscles in most of his projects. His performance is tender while still nailing all of the movie’s comedic beats.
Still, the dynamic between the two characters is quite one-handed. This film is told much more from the perspective of Cranston’s character than Bening’s. For the most part, Bening’s character exists for little more reason than to be a supportive and loving wife to Cranston, which means she doesn’t get much to do.
There are some other performances in the supporting cast that are of note, like Rainn Wilson’s turn as a convenience store worker who becomes their co-conspirator, and Larry Wilmore’s as the protagonists’ accountant, but the best scenes are those which feature Cranston and Bening working off of one another’s strengths.
Jerry & Marge Go Large is an enjoyable, lighthearted movie aimed at older audiences, and while it might not do anything innovative, it is successful at what it sets out to do. Most people are probably going to be watching this for Bryan Cranston and Annette Bening anyway, and they are superb.
Jerry & Marge Go Large streams on Paramount+ beginning June 17.