In a world of cynicism, decline and excess, sometimes an uplifting story is just the antidote we need.
Jerry and Marge Selby’s story was crazy in the best possible way.
With a quick wit and a love for solving something, Jerry discovered a flaw in a lottery game which he exploited to win $26 million over nine years. And everything was completely legal.
The Selbys are retirees from Michigan, and for years they drove from their home to Massachusetts where they spent days printing out tickets and then even longer going through every piece of paper to find the winning numbers.
But that was not all for them. The Selbys shared their good fortune with their community, improved their town and helped their family and friends. It’s good news.
It was a story that also proved irresistible to Hollywood, which turned the Selby story into Jerry and Marge are getting bigfeaturing luminaries Bryan Cranston and Annette Bening.
The Selby’s wholesome story goes against the grain of mainstream movies and TV shows, shining a light on a slice of American culture that’s now rarely seen around the world, so focused are we all on the worst of American decline and excess.
“It’s hard to do a story right now that doesn’t have cynicism because obviously the stakes are very high right now, all over the world and certainly in America,” Bening told news.com.au. “There are so many polarized people, and the political atmosphere is also very polarized.
“So to find the real story of Jerry finding a loophole in the lottery system and they go to their friends and their kids and their community and say, ‘Hey guys, join us’ – this movie celebrates the fact that it happened to these people and it didn’t make them more cynical and it didn’t make them more greedy or cause a terrible tragedy.
“It celebrates a really positive part of human nature that is genuinely truthful.”
Bening said reading the script, which came to him during the difficult days of the pandemic, lifted his spirits.
“It was a simple choice for me,” she added. “It really lifted my spirits, it made me laugh and I thought, ‘This is what we need right now’.”
Cranston also saw the gem on the page. “When you read something and it resonates with you and it makes sense and is pathetic to you, you’re sure that’s the feeling the audience will have too.
“That you will be able to turn it around and present it to them and they will feel the same. It is hope and you have to trust your instincts that you have chosen wisely. Jerry and Marge created this type of effect.
“It turned out exactly as I hoped – a sweet, loving, positive and uplifting adventure.”
Cranston also cited Bening as a reason he enjoyed the experience so much, that she was someone he not only could get along with, but also enjoyed. And that’s not always the case.
“There were people who are not named that I didn’t enjoy working with, and as you get older you want less and less of that. I don’t want to spend six weeks with someone I know who is going to be from work.
This mutual respect and admiration translates to the screen, where their on-screen counterparts, the fictional Jerry and Marge, enjoy a loving, laid-back relationship reminiscent of the type of American storytelling that almost feels like part of a story. a bygone era.
Co-star Larry Wilmore agreed there were more Jerry and Marge kind of stories than now.
“The American film industry has turned around and gone towards the antihero thing, and more about deconstructing life than showing that stuff,” Wilmore said. “I think there’s still a lot of stuff out there that doesn’t get credited to him because it’s not always a big headline.
“So we are covering more of the ongoing destruction. Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad things but there are still a lot of good things too. And I hope it gives people hope that [the Selbys’ story] can happen because we didn’t make it up, this story is true.
“When I read the script I was like, ‘Thank you, we need this type of story.’ It wasn’t flashy, it was just real.
Jerry and Marge Go Large are on Paramount+ from Saturday, June 17
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