2019 was a weak year in film.
I don’t have the stats in front of me but there were only like, 11 movies that came out and not many of them were actually great. You want to know why everyone thinks The Irishman is so great? It’s because they were able to watch it in bed and it was the only movie people watched this year.
2019 was trash.
And with that comes a weird and super predictable list of Oscar nominations. Uncut Gems was completely shut out from the major categories and people are upset.
It’s 2020 and I’m trying to stop shitting on everything I watch and listen to so I’ve been silent about my Uncut Gems thoughts but it’s time to talk about this movie and how overrated it is.
Before I fully get into my hater bag, it’s important to mention that Uncut Gems is a fun exhilarating movie and I cannot wait to watch it 4 times over the course of one weekend when it starts re-airing on TNT later this year.
The movie is about Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler), a New York City jeweler who is struggling to pay back gambling debts and a loan shark who also happens to be his sad-faced brother-in-law while he bangs his young side chick who is astronomically out of his league and has no business sleeping with bearded Adam Sandler.
Their relationship isn’t the problem with the movie but it’s indicative of an overall lack of substance in this movie. Watching it felt like continuous escalating actions with no real clear character development or understanding of anyone’s motivations.
Howard purchases a rare black opal from Ethiopian Jewish miners, as one does, and attempts to sell the *dramatically turns to camera* uncut gem, to Boston Celtics power forward, Kevin Garnett. Naturally, wacky hijinx ensue as Garnett essentially steals the opal and Howard struggles to get in contact with the man who is in the middle of an Eastern Conference Finals in Philadelphia yet continued to spend all of his free time in the New York diamond district for some reason.
But I don’t want to poke hole in plot.
Again, it’s 2020 and I’m trying to enjoy things even if they’re dumb and don’t make any sense like Howard’s girlfriend choosing him over The Weeknd.or the fact that The Weeknd’s in this movie at all.
When Howard finally sells the opal to Garnett and has the money to start paying off his brother-in-law, he immediately sends his girlfriend to the casino to bet the money on an NBA parlay.
That was the moment I was out on the idea of Uncut Gems being Oscar-worthy.
As I mentioned earlier, this movie lacked character motivations. We are to believe that Howard had this uncontrollable gambling addiction but at no point did I feel any sort of empathy for this man.
We can start with the fact that he owes his booking like, six figures and his bookie still allowed him to place more bets without really any hesitance or resistance. I had a bookie in college. I owed him $10 once and he texted me all day every day to let me know about it. I can’t imagine going down $100,000 to Mike Francesa and being able to maintain a friendly working relationship.
This movie does briefly depict the consequences of Howard’s awful money management when his brother-in-law’s thugs attack him at his daughter’s play and throw him naked in his car trunk.
But that didn’t seem to affect his behavior in any way. And not in a ‘man, gambling addiction is so powerful that Howard still throws his money away even after he was embarrassed in front of his wife and kids’. He was unaffected in more of a ‘no one in this movie seems to care about anything’ type of way.
Mississippi Grind is one of the best movies, if not the best movie, about gambling addiction. Ben Mendelsohn plays a struggling real estate agent who goes out gambling every night and always loses until one day he meets Ryan Reynolds at a local poker game, finally wins and basically attaches himself to Ryan’s hip like a keychain in hopes that just being around him can turn his luck around.
Throughout the movie, we see Ben hit lower and lower lows selling off personal items and stealing money from his ex-wife’s sock draw. The entire time you sink lower and lower with Ben. You feel the heaviness of his addiction and his willingness to throw everything out of the window in order to sit at the end of a poker table all night.
At no point in Uncut Gems did I feel like Howard was sooo deep into his gambling addiction that he was no longer making sane rational decisions. He kind of just seemed like a selfish dick who was making decisions based on a poorly written script. It was all very inorganic and inhuman.
So when you don’t feel as though he is making compulsive decisions because of crippling addiction he can’t overcome, you’re just watching a scammer who clearly has never faced consequences for his fuckery so he just continued to engage in fuckery until he realized at the very end that he’s not as cute as he thinks he is.
That’s not a compelling story to me. It’s never great when I spend an entire movie thinking to myself ‘why are these people behaving this way??’
If I can’t connect to the characters I’m spending two hours with and I can’t wrap my head or understand the decisions they’re making then what exactly makes this movie so great?
The ending was the only part that made any sense to me. Shoot this man. Shoot this man dead.
I’m a stan for all New York related content so my bias permits me from saying that Uncut Gems was bad. Suicide Squad is the worst movie I’ve ever seen and I would watch it every day if it took place in the Lower East Side.
Huge meme fan too. Adam Sandler’s odd goatee smile is meme fodder for the rest of the year. Can’t really say the same thing about 1917.
And as a butt fan, shout out Julia Fox.
But this movie was chaos for the sake of chaos. I can’t support that type of storytelling. In this house, we care about character’s motives.
That one scene from "Uncut Gems" but it's Goofy. pic.twitter.com/rF9cMNnsEt
— Brock Baker (@BrockBaker) January 10, 2020
Thank you Uncut Gems, for the memes.