The latest film from the team of Joe Swanberg and Jake Johnson, WIN IT ALL, is a perfectly fine film — good, even, in some regards — but it’s also a safe film. It feels similar to a lot of Swanberg films of the past, even down to the unscripted nature of the project. Still, one can’t help but wonder when Swanberg will push himself as a creator or even if he should. After all, he’s found something that works relatively well for himself, but staleness can get tired quickly in this business.
In Win It All, Swanberg and Johnson’s third outing together, the latter stars as Eddie, a character familiar in many stories before this one. Eddie is down on his luck and not looking to grow up anytime soon. However, when a friend leaves a duffel bag with Eddie while he does time in prison, Eddie’s life starts taking on some big changes, including the evolution of his gambling problem, a new girlfriend, and a new job.
The gimmick of the duffel bag to differentiate this familiar story from the rest is a good and entertaining one, if a little inconsistent at times.
The film should be able to win fans over with ease — Johnson is a compelling and easy protagonist and there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, especially with supporting cast member Keegan Michael-Key. The whole cast, in general, is solid and Aislinn Derbez is definitely a stand-out and Swanberg’s insistence on an actual Mexican actress to play this Mexican character is in the film’s favor.
By the film’s end, there is a real and earned tension with Eddie’s life and where it’s going, which makes it very difficult to suss out how the film will end, but that, of course, is a positive.
There is nothing particular about this film that stands out but it is also a supremely solid film as well and those can be hard to come by, believe it or not.
Rated: Not rated
Running time: 90 minutes
Anya is a writer and editor with a passion for pursuing diverse narratives and perspectives. Her feminist icons are Lauren Bacall and Leslie Knope and she can often be found at a Disney park when she’s not working on her Masters in Mass Communication/Journalism at Cal State University Northridge.
Follow Anya on Twitter: @anyacrittenton
Keep up with all of Anya’s reviews and stories here.
Anya Crittenton | Associate Editor