REVIEW: ‘Jerry and Marge Go Large’ Is A Safe Bet For Paramount+

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Jerry and Marge Go Large - But Why Tho

Jerry and Marge Go Large is a Paramount+ Original Film directed by David Frankel and written by Brad Copeland, based on the HuffPost article of the same name by Jason Fagone. After 40 years of working as a production line manager for Kellogg’s, Jerry Selbee (Bryan Cranston) finds himself adrift despite the opportunity to spend more time with his wife Marge (Annette Benning). That is until a conversation at the local grocery store leads Jerry to an epiphany: by exploiting a loophole in the Windfall lottery program, he is able to walk away with a substantial amount of money. Marge soon finds out about the plan, and together she and Jerry repeatedly game the Windfall system in order to revitalize their small town of Evart, Michigan—even pulling in several friends and family members to form their own business along the way.

The “rise and fall” story of a scam artist or person who manages to buck the system has taken off in recent years. From WeCrashed on Apple TV, Inventing Anna on Netflix (which ironically featured Frankel as a director), and Super Pumped: The Battle For Uber on Showtime, to films like Hustlers and fellow Paramount+ film Queenpins, people seemingly can’t get enough of these kinds of stories. Where Jerry and Marge differs is that most of these people, including Inventing Anna‘s Anna Sorokin or Super Pumped’s Travis Kalanick, are extremely despicable people so audiences can’t help but root for their downfall. The Selbees are genuinely nice, honorable people in comparison, to the point where they give off grandparent vibes.

This is a surprising departure for Cranston and a welcome one. Most people still associate him with Walter White from Breaking Bad, so for him to play a character who is a complete 180 is a test of his considerable abilities. But he dives into the role with gusto, playing Jerry as an affable yet somewhat detached man who is a whiz with numbers but not so much with people. Benning is equally as great, finding the joy in Marge finally finding a connection with her husband – and it doesn’t hurt that Frankel stages most of the film as conversations between the two.

However, Copeland decides to try and introduce some stakes with a pair of dueling plotlines. One features a reporter at the Boston Globe who catches onto the Selbees’ activities, as well as an arrogant Harvard student named Tyler (Uly Schlesinger) who decides to pull off the same game and doesn’t take too kindly to others “muscling in” on his turf. Considering the story’s real-life origins as a news article, it would have made sense to just stick with the Globe subplot. The Harvard part doesn’t amount to much other than painting Tyler as an arrogant douche, and while I get that underdog stories require a villain this one is too undercooked.

There’s also the competition. Jerry And Marge made its debut on the same weekend as Hulu’s Good Luck To You, Leo Grande and Netflix’s Spiderhead. The former is a dramedy boasting the talents of Emma Thompson, and the latter features the talents of Joseph Kosinski (who delivered a major hit with Top Gun: Maverick) and Chris Hemsworth (who has an upcoming blockbuster with Thor: Love and Thunder). Compared to those two, Jerry and Marge feels less like a must-watch film and more like something to watch while folding your laundry. I feel like a limited release in theaters may have suited this film more, as it would have proved the perfect counter-programming to films like Jurassic World: Dominion and Lightyear.

Despite the manufactured conflict the rest of the cast is fairly enjoyable. The standout is Rainn Wilson, who plays gas station clerk Bill. Bill’s acerbic nature rubs well off of Jerry and Marge’s approachability, and even though this is the type of role Wilson can play in his sleep he still manages to fire off a zinger or two. Bill also serves as the film’s narrator, which will wring a few laughs out of viewers, and has a subplot revolving around his impending divorce that ends with a stellar punchline. It’ll make you wonder why Copeland didn’t put that same type of thought into the rest of the script.

Jerry and Marge Go Large is an odd film, as Bryan Cranston and Annette Benning’s performances bring some weight to a film that could use more meat on its bones. It’s probably a film that your grandparents will love. Otherwise, I’d recommend checking out Cranston and Benning’s other work. 


Jerry and Marge Go Large
is currently available to stream on Paramount+.


Jerry and Marge Go Large
  • 6.5/10
    Rating - 6.5/10
6.5/10

TL;DR

Jerry and Marge Go Large is an odd film, as Bryan Cranston and Annette Benning’s performances bring some weight to a film that could use more meat on its bones. It’s probably a film that your grandparents will love. Otherwise, I’d recommend checking out Cranston and Benning’s other work.