Uncut Gems is directed by Josh and Benny Safdie. Adam Sandler, Kevin Garnett, Idina Menzel, Lakeith Stanfield, Julia Fox, and Eric Bogosian.
Howard Ratner is a Jewish man who owns a jewelry store which caters to a clientele including celebrities and athletes. He’s also deep in debt for past failed debts and investments. Ratner, who divides his time between his family and a mistress, comes into possession of a rare uncut stone he plans to auction, which ends up on loan in the hands of a professional NBA player, leaving Ratner to pawn what items he has to his name to raise the funds to place potential winning bets. But will his ways catch up with him?
I nearly walked out of this film, and it took every ounce of patience and intestinal fortitude to stay in my seat for over two hours. Uncut Gems is not only the worst movie of 2019; it’s one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen in my life. Period. The movie gives us a leading man who has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and its mean-spirited, offensive, and depressing tone are enough to put off even the most open-minded of viewers. It doesn’t help that the main character is about as offensive a Jewish stereotype as you can get.
One of the most important things to do when making a movie is to give us a compelling character who’s interesting and will keep my attention, especially if the movie runs for over two hours. Adam Sandler is a solid comedic actor, and under the right circumstances, doesn’t do half bad in dramatic material either. Sadly, Uncut Gems gives us a man beyond redemption who fails to create any sort of positive impression with the audience, and it isn’t long before viewers will lose interest in this degenerate human being who lacks any sort of humanity. He pawns other people’s things to pay for bets. He cheats on his wife and abandons his family to spend time with a mistress, who also happens to be a drug addict. He gets thrown out of clubs for his disgusting behavior. Through it all, we don’t feel bad for the guy. In the least. Movies like Raging Bull prove it’s possible to create a largely unsympathetic protagonist who’s still interesting and may still have some hope for the future. Uncut Gems misses the point here entirely. Did I mention the character is an insanely offensive Jewish stereotype who isn’t doing his people any favors?
The whole movie is just dark and dismal. Attempts at humor fall flat. There are a few moments where it seems Sandler is trying to recapture his comedy roots, but the movie simply won’t allow that. Every time he seems like he’s about to make a turn for the best, he’s right back in the life. What has the potential to be interesting or appealing here, the movie doesn’t even bother to flesh out. It’s pretty sad when even the main character’s family gets shafted, and his relationship with them, which could have at least somewhat redeemed him, gets next to no emphasis. If the filmmakers were trying to create an unsettling feeling for the audience, they at least succeed there. But it doesn’t make the movie good.
One review could never sum up everything wrong with Uncut Gems, but a gem this is not. There are many movies playing in theaters this holiday season. What one should you go see? Any one of them not called “Uncut Gems.” Skip it. Forget you ever heard of it. The worst movie of 2019, and possibly the decade.
Rating: Zero stars.
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