Ryan Reynolds and Ben Mendelsohn regularly play characters on the opposite end of the ‘cool’ spectrum. In Mississippi Grind, they are two (somewhat) lovable losers who end up joining forces on a gambling road trip that will either leave them even more broke than they were initially or send them into a new stratosphere of wealth and financial independence. Along the way, hopefully they’ll uncover what friendship looks like and maybe even kick the self-destructive gambling habit for good.
When Curtis (Reynolds) blows into a game of chance, he draws all eyes and attention to himself. But he’s quickly sucked into the quieter, more passive vortex of Gerry (Mendelsohn) who has all of the earmarks of a longstanding addict – he lies, cheats, steals, begs, and manipulates to get money or out of trouble. Curtis seems like a good guy trying to compassionately respond to the troubles of a reasonably sad Gerry, but the end result appears to be mutual destruction for much of the film.
While the portrayals by Reynolds and Mendelsohn are solid and entertaining, the film seems to be a reasonably ‘southern’ facsimile of Rounders or The Gambler. Unfortunately, I didn’t see the ultimate lesson there — both Curtis and Gerry have terrible habits but everything works out for them in the end!
The sad truth I’ve seen and heard from others is that a gambling addiction doesn’t sort itself out. It’s not beautiful or positively powerful, but it destroys lives, families, and relationships. That’s the sad shame that this parable doesn’t convey.
The special feature is the “Two of a Kind: On the Road with Mississippi Grind.”