By JT Shatzer
Before reading this article, understand that many spoilers to an outstanding film lay ahead. Recently released movie, Uncut Gems, may happen to be the most anticipated movie starring Adam Sandler in recent memory.
A24, the movie producing company behind the magnificent films, Hereditary, Midsommar, and Lady Bird, decided to take a chance by featuring Adam Sadler, an actor renowned for specializing in comedic roles, as the main protagonist in their action-packed film. A24’s risky move proved to be a beneficial one, as Uncut Gems put up the best box office numbers in the history of the company.
The film is centered around the discovery and reselling of a rare black opal discovered by Ethiopian Jewish miners in 2010. Howard Ratner, a gambling addict and jewelry store owner played by Adam Sandler, struggles to pay off massive debts he accumulates throughout his life. He ends up buying the opal and plans to auction it for an estimated price of one million dollars. This would not only completely rid his life of debt, but it would also bring him extreme wealth. Kevin Garnett, a famous professional basketball player, visits Ratner’s shop and is shown the opal, which he immediately becomes obsessed with. Garnett insists that he holds on to the opal, as he believes that it will bring him good luck for his upcoming game. He feels so passionate about the opal that he even offers his NBA championship ring to Ratner as collateral. Under an immense amount of pressure to make a decision, Ratner reluctantly agrees to the proposal. Glenelg Junior, Mitch Walker, spoke on the tension during this part of the movie as he stated, “I knew it was downhill from here. The look Garnett had in his eyes was crazy. It showed just how amazed he was by the opal.” Later on, Ratner places a bet on Garnett playing extremely well due to his possession of the opal.
The bet ends up paying off, as Ratner wins a large sum of money. However, conflict strikes as Ratner places a bet with money he owes to a loan shark. Ratner is then ambushed at his daughter’s school play by the bodyguards of the men whom he owes money to. When he claims to the men that he can pay off the debts due to his recent acquisition of the opal, Ratner realizes that his prized possession is still in the hands of Garnett. Ratner is able to re-obtain the opal, and eventually sell it to Garnett in desperate need to pay off his debts. However, instead of being responsible, Ratner gives into his addiction once more and puts all of his money on Garnett’s next basketball game. Glenelg Freshman, Joey Samsock, couldn’t help but cringe when he watched this part as he explained, “I can’t believe he actually bet it all away. He was already up, could fix his whole life, but no. He had to be greedy.”
The people who Ratner owes money to become furious of this information, and attempt to convince him to call off the bet and just pay the money he owes. Ratner is unwilling to call off the bet and eventually locks the men up in the mantrap of the store as he watches the game with his money on the line. Surprisingly, Ratner’s bet pays off once more, as he wins a total of $1.2 million dollars. When Howard goes to free the men from the mantrap with excitement, he is immediately shot in the face without even being able to explain the big news.
The film’s ability to touch on the effects of addiction and the corrupt methods of many underground businesses is not only shocking, but it is vastly entertaining. Although Adam Sandler has been known for his roles as the main character in comedy movies such as Grown Ups, he was able to show his versatility as an actor while playing the character of Howard Ratner. Glenelg Senior, Ignacio De Sande, explained how eye-opening the plot was as he stated, “I hurt so see [Ratner] throw his life away like that. I hope this movie helps people struggling with addiction to rebuild their lives.” Greed, a temptation humans have struggled with for millennium is highlighted in this film, as Ratner could never seem to settle for what he had in his life already. Although the film may seem a bit farfetched, the themes present throughout the plot are not. Ratner, who battles with addiction seems as if an inner demon has a grip on his soul, telling him to make irrational decisions regarding gambling left and right. As one who is close to some people who battle drug addiction, I can ensure you that the decision making processes proves to be extremely similar. Glenelg Sophomore, Will Sloan, explained how the plot touched him as he stated, “Seeing people get consumed by their addictions is so sad to see. A lot of times it can lead to death as it did in this movie. Hate to see it.” Many of the decisions Ratner makes are nearly rage-inducing for a viewer, as they fail to understand why a character they can’t help but love must take unnecessary and irresponsible risks.
Overall, the film’s ability to have a viewer be on the edge of their seat the entire time is nothing short of extraordinary, and the thrilling conclusion to the plot left me in shock as I left the theatre. Make sure to stay up to date on the latest movie-buzz by checking out the GHS Shield!