Review: Jerry & Marge Go Large

Jerry & Marge Go Large screenshot

Year: 2022 | Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

After having seen ads on TV for the past couple of weeks, Jerry & Marge Go Large is a movie that I maybe wouldn’t normally have been too interested in, especially since it’s a Paramount+ exclusive in a time when movies are returning to theaters. It can be a red flag. But the fastest way to get me to see a movie that I’m on the fence about is to cast great actors, and Bryan Cranston and Annette Bening have a consistent track record of being great in everything that they’re in, so I decided to give this one a chance.

Well, Cranston did not disappoint. Every second of his performance captures a humanity that many actors may have missed in this role, even before the key theme of “humans are more valuable than numbers, even if they’re more unpredictable” comes to the surface. I joked with my fiancée that the beginning of this film is like a much lower-stakes version of Breaking Bad, but against all odds (eh? eh?), it somehow works. In a higher profile movie, I wouldn’t rule him out for an Oscar nomination, his performance is that good here. Bening gives a capable supporting performance, especially in the more emotional moments, but sadly her role is slightly underwritten here so she’s not given as much to work with.

While Cranston and, to a lesser extent, Bening do somewhat elevate the material here, I was honestly pleasantly surprised by how much the story carried its own weight. The TV spots made this look like a run-of-the-mill studio comedy, but it actually has more heart and thematic depth than it leads on, and has a much more indie dramedy feel to it. Admittedly, it may not be for everyone — the backlash over CODA winning Best Picture in 2021 comes to mind, and that’s a much better film that this one — but I’m not adverse to light emotional dramas as some people, so I dug it. The theme of losing your way after “retirement” (or in this case, having your job eliminated), in particular, reminded me a lot of one of my favorite songs, “Fred Jones Pt. 2” by Ben Folds, and Cranston sells the inner conflict of his character swimmingly.

Jerry & Marge Go Large isn’t without its problems — some of the story beats are trite and predictable, the “villain” is a cartoonish caricature, the first act takes a while to establish the story and get going — but I still enjoyed it more than I expected to, thanks to an outstanding lead performance and the exploration of themes that you don’t see that often. Even though it’s not necessarily a film that I would have given a chance in the theaters, I’m glad that I took a shot on it, especially since the marketing campaign doesn’t do a great job of representing what this film actually is.

If you were similarly on the fence about watching this movie, I recommend giving it a whirl. You just might be surprised.

Language: English
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Runtime: 1 hr. 36 min.
Rating: PG-13

Director: David Frankel
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Annette Bening, Rainn Wilson, Larry Wilmore, Michael McKean

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