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‘JERRY AND MARGE GO LARGE’ MADE ME SMILE

Not every movie can be, or should be, the equivalent of Top Gun: MaverickJerry and Marge Go Large may not win awards or earn a fortune, but it made me smile—and I don’t take that for granted, especially nowadays. Bravo to Bryan Cranston and Annette Bening for believing in this can-do story and giving it their all.

If you’ve read the “logline” you already know that the movie is based on a true story about a recent retiree who identifies a flaw in the Massachusetts State Lottery system. After striking it rich he decides to let the residents of his struggling Michigan town join in the monthly ritual, which involves driving hundreds of miles and printing out thousands of tickets.

In the process, Jerry and Marge rediscover what fun it is to engage in an activity that involves them both and brings them so much happiness and satisfaction.

I’ve left out the details that make the film worth watching and elevate it above the level of a soft-hearted TV movie. Credit screenwriter Brad Copeland and director David Frankel for not overplaying their hand and keeping things simple. Cranston and Bening strike just the right note and are supported by such welcome performers as Larry Wilmore, Michael McKean, Rainn Wilson, and as their bewildered children, Anna Camp and Jake McDorman.

Unlike so many bloated movie blockbusters, Jerry and Marge Go Large also knows when to quit. It runs 96 minutes.

The movie begins streaming Friday, June 17 on Paramount+.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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