Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Merry CrimesMas: Kent Gowran on Jackpot

Arme Riddere is Norwegian for French Toast. The 2011 movie from director Magnus Martens is called Jackpot for the English subtitle reading audience, and is a film I’d put in the running for one of the best splatstick outings since Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead II (1987). In the first few minutes of the film, we see Oscar Svendsen crawl out from under a dead body in a sex shop/strip club full of carnage and cops, followed by a quick but clumsy chase and he’s taken into custody by cops Gina and Solor. 

At this point we get into a bit of setup reminiscent of The Usual Suspects, with Oscar being questioned about how he came to be under the body of a dead stripper with a shotgun in his hands. We jump into flashback time as a newly released con named Billy is brought to Evergreen, a plastic Christmas tree factory, where Oscar will be his supervisor, and he’ll work with fellow ex-cons Thor and Tresko. By lunchtime, they’ve hatched a plan to put their money into a can’t miss plan for betting on upcoming soccer matches. Oscar is pressed into joining, and soon enough, with a little help from Trine, a friend of Oscar’s, the four guys are watching the last of the matches and they win more than enough for all of them to have a very merry Christmas indeed. Of course, things almost immediately derail, and from there we’re treated to Oscar’s tale of woe and betrayal which builds and winds it way back to where we first come in.

Throughout the movie, the movie, in true splatstick fashion, delivers unapologetic violence and gore gags galore. For example, if you’ve ever wondered how hilariously bad attempting to dismember a body on a dinner table in an apartment might go, Jackpot is the winning ticket. I might offer a word of warning to the squeamish, but it’s all good fun as multiple lives come to an end… Devoured by their greed, you might say.

Director Martens also wrote the screenplay, based on a story by Jo Nesbo. The humor definitely feels akin to what we get in other Scandinavian crime comedies like Terribly Happy (2008) and In Order of Disappearance (2014), though considerably bloodier here. I can’t help but feel, not speaking Norwegian, there might be a joke or meaning in the title Arme Riddere… In Norway, this is most commonly a dessert, rather than a breakfast item. The name also translates as, and the delicacy known as Poor Knights. Without a doubt, some bread is lost.

Yes, my jokes are bad, and I have a lot of ‘em.

If you’ve never seen it, or maybe it’s been a minute, this a sweet choice for CrimesMas viewing.

Kent Gowran lives in Chicago.

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