Dripping with so many clichés that it feels like an oil slick, “Jerry and Marge Go Large” is the most inoffensive, wholesome, and sickly sweet movie that I’ve seen in a long, long time. This bland, straightforward comedy / drama is one that your parents and grandparents will watch with glee, but is also one that the whole family can enjoy. Translation: it’ll make you feel a pep in your step, but the film is so easy to digest that’s it’s also instantly forgettable.
Retiree Jerry Selbee (Bryan Cranston) loves numbers. He’s been obsessed with them for as long as he can remember. One day, Jerry discovers a mathematical loophole in the Massachusetts lottery and, along with help from his wife Marge (Annette Bening), the couple invest their life savings. Their eventual goal is to revitalize their crumbling small town. It takes a lot of work but before too long, everyone wants to bankroll their lotto strategy — especially when the pair win millions.
Based on a true story, the premise is irresistible. Who doesn’t like to dream of the little guy winning big? It’s an astonishing tale of an everyman who outsmarts and exploits the rules of a major sweepstakes. What’s even more incredible is that Jerry’s little scheme isn’t illegal, it’s just smart. I guess it pays to follow the math.
Cranston is enjoyable in everything he does, and this film is no exception. Bening isn’t given much to do but she’s still a charmer, and Rainn Wilson‘s supporting role as divorced convenience store clerk Bill adds a welcome brand of humor. The performances are goofy, but delightful.
Some of the film doesn’t fare so well, including the ridiculous subplot of an obnoxious Harvard student named Tyler (Uly Schlesinger) who wants to take a piece of Jerry and Marge’s winnings by devising his own numbers system. He’s made out to be a villain, but he’s not exactly a worthy adversary.
There aren’t any surprises or shocking revelations in “Jerry and Marge Go Large,” but a cute little movie like this fares better without them. This is a film that’s the very definition of mainstream, with a crowd-pleasing story, harmless humor, and an ending that’s warm, fuzzy, and wrapped up with a tidy bow.