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.
Despite the lion’s share of films available for acquisition at the Sundance Film Festival, the fat wallets have remained tight as purchases have been scarce going into the event’s fourth day.
“It’s early on,” Patrick Gunn, an Artisan exec, told The Hollywood Reporter. “But on the other hand, I don’t remember the festival going into Sunday without the announcements of an acquisition.”
Word is that most of the big wigs aren’t content with the mediocre offerings of films that had much hype pumping them up before the start of the festival. Films such as “Donnie Darko,” “Green Dragon” and “Double Whammy” had strong potential, but none were picked up over the weekend.
“I think there are solid films in terms of craftsmanship but nothing as far as commerciality,” Universal exec Dennis O’Connor said.
There were a few business deals that went down, however. Sony Pictures Classics acquired North American, Australian and New Zealand rights to Mark and Michael Polish’s “Jackpot.” It’s the second deal between both parties.
"Jackpot," the second part of a trilogy begun with "Twin Falls Idaho," stars Daryl Hannah, Jon Gries, Anthony Edwards and Garrett Morris. SPC released the Polish brothers’ directorial debut, “Twin Falls Idaho,” which premiered at Sundance two years ago.
Also, Manhattan Pictures Int. has optioned the action comedy “Marcus Timberwolf” and signed Danny Aiello and Lori Singer to star. The film is budgeted at $5 million to $10 million, and no director has been attached to the project yet.
Julia Roberts might very well be the hardest working woman in Hollywood.
With "American Sweethearts" and the "Ocean’s Eleven" remake already in the works, the $20 mil actress is in talks to star in another high-profile project.
In "Replay," Roberts would reteam with Brad Pitt -- whom the actress worked with in the upcoming "The Mexican" and will be working with again in "Ocean’s Eleven" -- where she plays the former love of a deceased man (Pitt) who comes back to life to correct his mistakes.
The project will mark the first collaboration between ex-Disney head Joe Roth’s Revolution Studios and Warner Bros.
MOVING IN: Daily Variety reports that Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore will star in "The Duplex." The comedy is about a young couple trying to move into a swanky New York duplex.
COOL CATS: Get ready for some catting around: Jennifer Tilly, Kirsten Dunst and multiple Emmy winner Eddie Izzard have joined the production of "The Cat’s Meow," The Hollywood Reporter says. Directed by Peter Bogdanovich ("The Last Picture Show"), the film chronicles the scandal behind the murder of a Hollywood power broker aboard tycoon William Randolph Hearst’s yacht during the 1920s.
PIANO LESSONS: The Reporter also says that indie-minded actor Adrien Brody might star as the late Polish pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman in Roman Polanski’s aptly titled project "The Pianist." Brody apparently beat out thousands of hopefuls for the role after Polanski placed a wanted ad in a London paper.
HEAD TRIPPING: Variety reports that actress Alfre Woodard will join Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges in the "K-Pax." The film is about a psychiatric patient (Spacey) who claims to be from another planet. Bridges will play the psychiatrist and Woodard his boss.