Apparently there can never be enough movies about karaoke. Here's yet another one, this time about a country and western singer seeking fame and fortune on the road.
Sunny Holiday (Jon Gries) has no doubt he's the next George Jones. In search of stardom, he leaves his wife (Daryl Hannah) and baby, steals her pink Chrysler and embarks on a nine-month tour of every dive western town he can hit on the way to Los Angeles. He takes with him his ineffectual manager, Les (Garrett Morris), who guides Sunny's every move, from picking out his clothes to setting up his interviews. Along the way Sunny encounters a variety of backwater females who are ready (but not always able) for a one night stand: Janice (Peggy Lipton) proves too much for him; Cheryl (Crystal Bernard) passes out on the couch; Tangi (Camellia Clouse), Cheryl's teenage daughter, tries unsuccessfully to seduce him. Nothing seems to go right for Sunny, who gets arrested, dumps Les and ends up taking refuge with his just-as-much-a-loser brother Tracy (Anthony Edwards).
So nice to see Morris in this, especially since his slick shyster Les is about the only character who manages to liven up this dreary pic. Gries is not funny, not charming, certainly not handsome--how he manages to get laid (or picked up) as much as he does is a confounding mystery. (The chicks are hicks, to be sure, but would Tangi the nubile teenager really be into a guy who's not only as old as her father but who looks like he's roped one too many steers as well?) Bernard pulls off her drunk scenes quite well, especially when she falls off a bar bathroom toilet. Hannah's and Edwards's parts are basically cameos, but in her few scenes Hannah nicely elicits sympathy as the frustrated and angry wife who sees no merit in her husband's gallivanting, particularly since she's left with the baby and no money. Look for Mac Davis in a cameo as well, as Sunny's big competition Sammy Bones.
Yet another set of brothers, Michael and Mark Polish, wrote and produced this follow-up to their 1999 Sundance success Twin Falls Idaho. But where Falls was a beautifully quirky look at unordinary people who want to be ordinary, Jackpot is an overly arty look at some ordinary down-home folks who want to be extraordinary. Problem is, they're so ordinary you don't care what they want or how they plan to get it. Michael, who also directed, keeps the pace slow and languorous--are these karaoke-ing schmoes ever going to get to their destination? Sitting through scene after scene of Sunny either picking up a woman or singing bad country and western is tediously painful. Not to mention the music sucks.
You're better off not gambling if you plan to hit Jackpot.