Thursday, January 16, 2020

Movie Review: “Uncut Gems”

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: R
Run time: 2 hrs, 15 mins

Ethiopia, 2010. A severely injured man is being taken from a mine; he is bleeding badly. Two miners are then seen looking for and finding a large precious opal.

Now, it’s 2012 and Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) is getting a colonoscopy. Ratner is a gem dealer in New York City. He owes several people a lot of money and a few guys have come to his office to collect. Each time Ratner makes a little bit of money he’s quick to gamble it to try and make more. Things don’t always go his way though.

(At the time) Celtics power forward Kevin Garnett comes into Ratner’s store and is looking for some watches. Ratner has just received the precious opal from Ethiopia and is so happy, he shows Garnett. Garnett is mesmerized by it and immediately wants it. Ratner tells him it’s set for auction. Ratner does let Garnett hold on to the opal for a few days, taking Garnett’s championship Celtics ring as collateral. Ratner pawns the ring for $21,000 in hopes he can quickly make the money back to retrieve it. The collectors are watching Ratner this entire time. Ratner is also being followed by other individuals he owes.

Ratner has bet on a Celtics game that could give way to a big payout. Because he is always wheeling and dealing, Ratner doesn’t give his family the attention they deserve. Ratner has a girlfriend, Julia (Julia Fox) and he and his wife Dinah, (Idina Menzel) have made plans to divorce after Passover. At his daughters play, he is followed by some thugs and kidnapped after spotting two of the collectors sitting behind him. The thugs take everything Ratner has and leave him naked inside his car trunk. His wife bails him out.

Garnett still has the opal and Ratner goes to several locations looking for it. Ratner catches his girlfriend at a club with singer, The Weekend. Ratner and she have a big fight and tentatively break up. Later in the movie, Ratner tries to make amends with Dinah, and she tells him she never wants to see him again.

Howard finds out the opal was appraised much lower than he initially thought, so he asks a family member of his (Judd Hirsch) to bid against Garnett at the auction in order to drive up the price. Things don’t go Howard’s way and he ends up having a bit of a nervous breakdown.

Will things turn around for Howard Ratner? Will he be able to pay back all the people he owes money to?

I knew going into this, this was not your typical Adam Sandler movie. Sandler gives an incredible performance. I felt this was a fast-paced movie with a great story about a guy consistently down on his luck – through fault of his own. I found myself rooting for Howard even after I watched him make bad decision after bad decision after bad decision. The plot definitely kept me wanting to know ‘what’s going to happen next?’ This is a terrific movie that I’d recommend seeing in the theater. It has an ending you might not see coming. Two precious, ‘uncut gems’ way up.

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