"Reel Reviews: ‘Uncut Gems’ leaves much to be desired" by: Jessica Shepard

   I have to preface this with a warning that I’m usually a fan of anything Adam Sandler is billed in.
   Heck, I grew up watching plenty of his movies and Saturday Night Live skits.
   And sure, there’s been plenty hits and misses in the past and plenty of critics decided that he can’t be a “serious” actor and should only stick to comedy – that’s a lie when it comes to “Uncut Gems.”
   I chose Uncut Gems to review this week because it’s been making a lot of buzz for that exact reason and a few friends had seen it earlier.
   I have to admit that Sandler shows off his acting chops, but overall, I’m not a fan of the movie.
   It reminds me too much of Joaquin Phoenix’s “Joker” descent into fevered madness and a dash of Leonardo DiCaprio’s angsty, washed-up spaghetti Western actor in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” but with a better all-around soundtrack.
   Uncut Gems is a crime thriller film directed by Josh and Benny Safdie, who co-wrote the screenplay with Ronald Bronstein.
   The film stars Adam Sandler, Kevin Garnett, Lakeith Stanfield, Julia Fox, Mike Francesa, Idina Menzel, Keith Richards, Tommy Kominik, and Eric Bogosian.
   The basic plot follows Howard Ratner (Sandler), a jeweler and gambling addict in New York City’s Diamond District, who gets in over his head with loan sharks and must retrieve an expensive gem he purchased in order to pay off his debts.
   In 2012, Ratner runs a jewelry store in New York’s Diamond District while struggling to pay back gambling debts, particularly $100,000 to a loanshark named Arno (Bogoaisn).
   His domestic life is split between his employee and mistress Julia (Fox), and his estranged wife Dinah (Menzel), who has agreed to divorce him after Passover.
   One day, Howard receives the rock containing the opal, hidden in a crate of fish and estimates the value at over $1 million; so he plans to auction it off.
   Demany (Stanfield), an associate who obtains customers for Howard, brings basketball player Kevin Garnett (Garnett) to the shop to buy jewelry.
   Garnet becomes obsessed with the opal and insists on holding onto it for good luck at his game that night.
   Howard reluctantly agrees, taking Garnett’s championship ring as collateral and immediately pawning it in order to place a large bet on the game, planning to buy it back with his winnings.
   Howard wins his bet on the game, but Demany informs him that Garnett wishes to keep the opal longer after failing to meet Howard to return it on time.
   This of course, makes Howard even more manic and desperate as Arno closes in on him for another shakedown.
   It’s a mess of a race between Howard, his gambling addiction and crumbling life – which will kill him first?
   Gems is rated R for pervasive strong language, violence, some sexual content and brief drug use and clocks in at just over two hours and 15 minutes.

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