I was ready to set aside journalistic integrity, what little of it I have, and start disliking this movie from the moment I saw the title. It didn’t help that the movie is shot in DV and really looks like it, not in the good “Wow I can’t believe you shot that with inexpensive consumer technology” but rather “Wow my kids birthday party looked better then this” way. Clever quips aside this is an infectious and enjoyable little movie.
The Filchak’s family business is gambling. They are sports handicappers and they are horrible at it, scamming their customers out of money and picking a string of horrible losers dictated by the elder Filchak, Leo. Now the younger brother Brian is about to lose his house and his family, he decides that the best way out of this debacle is to wager all his money on the big Thanksgiving day game. His older brother Craig tries to talk him out of it, but when that fails suggests that they actually make an effort to pick the winner. Ultimately they use Leo’s ridiculous method to decide the winner and all show up at Brian’s home to watch the game, drink ‘pilgrim vodka’ with Brian’s Russian in laws and make fun of the fab four of children’s music, The Wiggles.
Ultimately it’s these funny little touches that invade the film and make it so memorable. Brian’s in-laws are all Russian immigrants, not for any particular reason but because it makes the story more enjoyable. Andrew and Marc Unger write, direct and star in the film and you have to admire filmmakers who will go to the trouble of shooting a fake band called ‘The Weegles’ just to get a few more jokes. The final moments of the football game are played out by kids in a park, it’s all very effective and detailed story telling that make this an interesting film. It is a bit long, looks a full length movie that’s been badly circumcised and as I mentioned it doesn’t have a lot going for it in the way of production values but it’s a charming and funny film in the end. The Filchak’s take a Gamble can be seen at the Sarasota Film festival in 2006.