Ohhh, excitement must have been running high in this pitch meeting! "Gentlemen, picture this. It's got everything: white-collar crime. Rich people smirking. Unlikable people yelling at each other. Long synagogue scenes. Lots and lots of indoor putting. A story where everybody already knows the ending. It's Kevin Spacey... wait for it... are you with me?... hear me out... as JACK ABRAMOFF. Imagine the merchandising possibilities! Kevin-Spacey-as-Jack-Abramoff pillowcases, Kevin-Spacey-as-Jack-Abramoff lunch boxes, Kevin-Spacey-as-Jack-Abramoff baby onesies, Chippewa-brand flaming money belts, Tickle Me Grover Norquists, Falsified Wire-Transfer Bingo (for the Wii), sad-Indian bobbleheads, I could go on. Do you want me to go on? Angry John McCain cookie jars. Bam. We're gonna be rrrrrrrrrrrrrich!!!"
Ahem. Casino Jack is a mildly entertaining refresher course in recent history, with a none-too-flattering opinion of our current political system. It is the tale of one Jack Abramoff (Spacey, see above), a high-powered D.C. lobbyist fond of celebrity impressions, Judaism, looking worried, and megabucks. As you probably remember, in 2006, Abramoff began a six-year prison sentence for defrauding Indian tribes out of millions and millions of dollars.
In the several hours leading up to Abramoff's inevitable fall, he gallivants around the globe with his wacky, womanizin' sidekick Michael Scanlon (Barry Pepper, Battlefield Earth), making stinky deals, hugging Tom DeLay, ignoring sad Indians, and yelling about being the best. Spacey contributes a lively if unpleasant performance, and it's hard to quarrel with the film's message: The politicians who opened their pockets to Abramoff's money while closing their eyes to his business practices—the same politicians who righteously shake their shame fingers in Abramoff's face when his crimes are exposed—those guys are complicit, and they are DICKS.
The rest of the movie varies from okay to sub-okay. Witness this dialogue, which redefines woodenness:
Journalist (getting out of her car and approaching some guy she doesn't know): Susan Schmidt of the Washington Post. Thanks for seeing me. I've got a lot of questions for you.
Taciturn (not to say wooden!) Chippewa leader (standing near building): Jack Abramoff, right?
Journalist (foregoing niceties): I hear he was charging the tribe an exorbitant fee.
Chippewa guy: Yes.
In other words, Casino Jack won't ruin your day, but it won't enhance it, either. Although—oh yeah—there is this one part when a crazy Greek guy stabs Jon Lovitz in the head a bunch of times with a pen (don't worry—he doesn't die, so it's still funny). That part was pretty good. Come to think of it, that'd make a good Wii game! Somebody get Hollywood on the phone! I'm gonna beeeee RRRRRRRIIIICH!!!