Uncut Gems

Adam Sandler has spent 17 years as the only lowbrow comic to improve the quality of productions from directors who are supposed to provide him with a little prestige. Uncut Gems probably would’ve been a pretty great movie with anyone in the lead, though – depending on how much a viewer can stand to get caught in the grinding gears of a world-class hustler compulsively gambling himself into a quagmire. The directing team of Bennie and Josh Safdie broke through with a similar tale about a frantic petty thief in 2017’s Good Time, and Uncut Gems is an equally inspired (if slightly dated) kind of ’90s indie wallow. Sandler carries that spirit with the most unhinged and shameless performance since Harvey Keitel rode to self-destruction in Bad Lieutenant. He keeps a catalogue of pathetic veneers shining as an unrepentant jeweler scrambling to stay ahead of his bookies long enough to see if a moronic gamble pays off. NBA star Kevin Garnett adds an extra level of sleaze by boldly playing himself as the kind of man-child that inspires lesser creeps to play themselves in the long run. Sandler can still take some comfort if nervous Academy members deny him a perfectly valid nomination for Best Actor. There are plenty of guys who’ll swear that Click already made Sandler the Jimmy Stewart of the 21st century.