Although Adam Sandler has been synonymous with oddball films like “Billy Madison,” “Happy Gilmore” and “The Waterboy,” he’s tried his hand at a few serious films as well. Sandler is testing those waters once again in the crime thriller “Uncut Gems.”
Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) is a jewelry store owner in New York set in 2012. Howard chooses to live his life on the wild side, to put it mildly. Not only is he a gambling addict, but he’s always looking for his next big score.
In his constant search to sell prized jewelry and possessions, he owes money to anyone and everyone that he’s crossed paths with. That includes his brother-in-law, Arno (Eric Bogosian), who’s not pleased with the way Howard runs his business and life.
In fact, Howard has very few people in his corner, as he’s burned just about every bridge imaginable. His soon-to-be ex-wife, Dinah (Idina Menzel), is only sticking with him for the sake of their three children, but she has long had it with his antics and behavior.
The only friend Howard has these days is Julia (Julia Fox), the store clerk that works at his jewelry store with whom Howard is having an affair. However, Howard gains a new friend when Boston Celtics star Kevin Garnett (portraying himself) walks into his jewelry store.
Garnett is a fan of all jewelry, but he is particularly enamored with Howard’s newest prize: a rare opal that was just delivered from Ethiopia. Howard sees this as his lottery ticket out of debt, but agrees to lend it to Garnett, who is convinced it’ll bring him good luck in the playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers.
From here, a nerve-racking and heart-pounding game ensues to the final buzzer. Can Howard keep his enemies away long enough before cashing in on the opal? Will Howard’s gambling addiction cost him everything? Will Garnett be willing to give the opal back if it really does bring him good luck in the playoffs?
We all know Sandler has talent, and when he wants to, can show range and be as diverse as any actor out there. Sandler proves that acting prowess here in “Uncut Gems,” and the hype is to be believed: he’s never been better.
Sandler’s acting is real treat to behold, and few if any actors could pull off playing such a despicable and morally corrupt character, and yet, we find ourselves still rooting for the guy. That said, this is not a film that’s for everyone.
The majority of the film centers around the 2012 NBA Conference Semifinals between the Celtics and 76ers. A small percentage of audiences will even remember this series or care, but it’s fascinating nonetheless to see a film centralize its story around Kevin Garnett and a playoff series that happened eight years ago. It is nothing short of brilliant.
Garnett, now retired from his playing days, also deserves credit for his portrayal of himself, which he makes look all too easy.
It is beyond refreshing to see a film with no major studio, hidden agenda or politics holding it back. “Uncut Gems” is an in-your-face, strange assembly of a crime thriller portrayed by a goofball of an actor in an intense and serious role.
For that reason, not everyone will love “Uncut Gems,” but those that do will find themselves a gem worth hanging onto.