Jerry & Marge Go Large is in no way related to Kevin & Perry Go Large. In many ways, the complete antithesis, this biographical comedy drama is based on a true story of Jerry and Marge Selbee. Long-married high school sweethearts, Jerry’s retirement from Kellogg’s finds him deciding what to with the first day of the rest of his life. When he stumbles upon a loophole in the state lottery, he and his wife Marge find a way to win big, using the money to uplift their small town and its people.
Directed by David Frankel, who’s best known for Marley & Me and The Devil Wears Prada, this delightful feel-good biographical comedy drama could be described as About Schmidt meets Robin Hood as a retiree uses his untapped talent to give back. Jerry & Marge Go Large co-stars Bryan Cranston and Annette Bening, two underrated actors, who make an exuberant co-lead pairing. Convincing and a great fit, their winning performances steer this charming little coming-of-age comedy drama to safety. Their infectious charms capture the selfless spirit of Frankel’s adaptation of an article about the real couple and town behind this big-hearted tale.
Furnishing the story with a number of local oddballs, this could have easily been the stomping ground for a Christopher Guest style ad lib comedy. Instead, Rainn Wilson, Larry Wilmore and Michael McKean are as about as ridiculous as it gets, giving the story and characters more substance in favour of simply being funny for funny’s sake. This soulful sense of humour and spirit makes it more wholesome, comparable with the classic Irish comedy, Waking Ned.
“…and she said I’d never wear ’em.”
A gentle, noble and optimistic tale, it’s enjoyable spending time with seemingly ordinary people doing extraordinary things. A real team effort, ego is sidelined much like the story itself in favour of community spirit. A timely comedy drama, the idea of uplifting a town of people who need the financial assistance and doing so with a smile just makes the triumph of the human spirit more endearing and heartwarming.
Powered by subverting the quip that “if it’s too good to be true, it usually is”, Jerry & Marge Go Large takes the glee of a windfall and shares the love with its townsfolk and audience. A delightful gem, it’s almost too down-to-earth and lovable, struggling to find obstacles and enemies in its path to the point of having to turn a hornet’s nest into a piñata. Filled with fun, much merriment and some real heartfelt moments, there’s much to appreciate in this simple, good-natured and crowd-pleasing all-rounder of a movie.
The bottom line: Breezy