Movie commercials offer us a great service; they not only show us which upcoming movies look good, but also which upcoming movies look like Hitler Turds (turds that waste no energy being anywhere except directly beneath your nose). In honor of this profound art, which I partake in from time to time, I give you TRAILER TRACKS, a weekly examination of upcoming movie commercials: what they say, what they don’t say, and what they say accidentally about the product being sold to you, the excited chump.

This week’s entry:
Casino Jack
(ATO Pictures; Dir. George Hickenlooper)



Introduction
Kevin Spacey and Barry Pepper. A rare look into the greedy world of lobbyists. A “Show me the money” reference. A “this whole courtroom is out of order” reference. Barry Pepper and Kevin Spacey. A funky saxophone comedy score. Graham Greene (the actor) acting.

If that combination of elements seems a little off to you, I can explain why because I have a little inside foosball on this one. Not a lot of people know this, but Casino Jack was actually made nine years ago. The studio shelved it because they felt it would be insensitive to release a mediocre movie called Casino Jack so soon after the events of September 11th. This is kind of a big secret because no one cares enough to talk about it.

The Setup
Kevin Spacey is some kind of lobbyist. For those like me who don’t know that word, the trailer tells us right up front that a lobbyist is a slick dude who can legally take money from a money dude and give it to a law dude and say “Dude! My man over here with the moneybags wants to fuck your 14-17 year old constituency. Make it happen! Oh, and waddup with welfare? Make it unhappen. Alright! Hey! Yer beautiful! When’s that kid of yours gonna finally grow a pair and have a fuckin bar mitzvah already? Hey, I’m just fuckin wit-cha.”

I’m not exactly sure what Barry Pepper is supposed to be. He’s all kinds of sleazy looking, so I guess he’s involved with being an asshole. Either that or he’s an undercover good guy. But if we like Kevin Spacey in this movie then I guess being an undercover good guy still makes you a bad guy, right? All I’m saying is it’s hard to look at Barry Pepper’s face.

The Problem
Most trailers suck because they give too much movie away. Captain Jack is one of those funny trailers that sucks because it can’t decide what kind of movie to sell. The whole first part is cut like a satire, so the greedy bastard is totally upfront and emboldened by his smarmy, vaguely villainous lifestyle. He’s charming in a slightly Kevin Spacey-esque way, and his assertions are backed by the power of generic party-time electric guitar riffs which would be “Taken Care of Business” if this film had a budget.

But then the good times music gets cut off by one of those deep, flame-less explosion noises, the “record scratch” of highly dramatic trailers. We can kind of anticipate the “party’s-over” part of this trailer, but I certainly didn’t expect a “we have to leave now because William H. Macy just killed Nina Hartley and then shot himself in the mouth” kind of ending for this particular get together.

Times get tough for Captain Jack when everyone in the world suddenly realizes that the government is corrupt because of lobbyists named Captain Jack. Lots of people yell at him for taking their money. Supposedly non-corrupt government people put him on trial. Most alarming of all, he’s got the FBI breathing down his neck with creepy phone calls. So will Captain Jack end up selling fake drugs to Alfred Molina or what?

The Solution
Who the fuck knows. As soon as the trailer introduces the scary FBI thing, it takes another 180 back into “lovable rascal” mode when Captain Ron literally hangs up on the conflict, opting to sip cocktails in the Oval Office instead. He also deflates his courtroom troubles with a half-assed Pacino impression. I wish my half-assed Edith Bunker impression had that influence.

My learned guess is, he either gets away with it in the end or he doesn’t. My learned opinion is, I don’t give a shit. This turd is supposedly based on a true story that I don’t wish to look up. And this turd’s IMDB page supposedly calls it a “Thriller” but I don’t wish to look that up either. My only wish is to know every language on Earth. I’ve given it a lot of though, and I feel that one’s truly Wishmaster-proof.

Summation
I might go see this movie simply to take a trip down memory lane back to a time when Kevin Spacey was an actor instead of a broken Oscar-bater known only for his snappy impressions.

And as always, I hope Barry Pepper someday finds happiness.

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