Adam Sandler plays jewel dealer Howard Ratner who discovers diamonds aren’t a man’s best friend when his hare-brained money making schemes backfire, causing him a web of problems with his wife (Idina Menzel), his mistress (Julia Fox), a professional basketball player (Kevin Garnett – as himself) and the loan sharks he’s indebted to.
This is a comedy crime thriller which loses none of its tension in the search for laughs by remaining grounded in the real world. This is in no small part thanks to *chokes* a brilliant performance from Sandler who brings most of the chuckles as the chaotic character while never making him feel cartoony. While he may have missed out on the Oscars, a Razzie Redeemer Award must surely be on the cards.
Howard feels like a slightly more hapless version of Al Pacino’s bumbling mobster in Donnie Brasco, and not just because they can both tell a fugazzi from the real thing. He’s likable enough to spend time with, but enough of an ass that it’s entertaining to see his plans unravel in spectacular fashion.
Its excellence is built on a foul-mouthed script by Ronald Bronstein and directors Josh and Benny Safdie, which mines the story for laugh-out-loud moments, showing the quality you’d expect from something that took a decade to write. It’s stylishly but naturalistically directed by the brothers, keeping us engrossed with an increasingly fast pace, accompanied by a quirky synth soundtrack. The result is a 24 carat comedy and a polished crime thriller which feels like a true unique, and not just because it has Adam Sandler in it and isn’t terrible.