Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) is a bundle of contradictions.
He's a New York jeweler, but one of his best clients is Kevin
Garnett, who plays for the Knicks' big rival, The Boston Celtics.
He's a family man, married with a daughter and two sons, and he
dutifully takes his turn reading at the family Seder observance.
Yes, he's Jewish, as well, as are many of his colleagues, but
Howard Ratner, while being observant about Passover celebration, is not
what you would call a pious man. He
has been known to cheat his customers, by assuring them that the jewelry
they just purchased is of higher quality than it is.
Some of them continue to bang on his office door, but he has one of
those double-door security systems where you have to buzz people in, so he
just ignores them.
Howard also loves to gamble, and place bets with bookies,
especially on NBA games. But
the high “vig” (interest rate) that the bookies charge gets him in
trouble with the goons they hire to collect.
Howard is always juggling one obligation off another.
He'll pawn a piece of jewelry that he's holding as collateral for
someone else. He'll take his
winnings from one bookie and pay off the other. He
constantly on the phone, wheeling and dealing.
He says he'll be at one of his kid's school plays, but then leaves
to take a phone call and doesn't return.
He says he'll be home to help put the little one to bed, but he
rarely shows up, and if he does, he's anxious to watch a game because he's
got money riding on it. His
wife, Julia (Julia Fox), tiring of all this, decides to divorce him, which
is OK by Howard, because he's got a girlfriend on the side, anyway, the
cute young thing at the jewelry store, whom he's bought an apartment for,
and who sends him lingerie texts.
We're just waiting for all this hyper-activity to implode, and for
Howard's shenanigans to catch up to him.
But somehow we like this guy---he's nice to his kids when he does
see them. He's expended a lot
of effort and persistence in acquiring a rare uncut gem (hence the title),
and genuinely wants someone to own it who is really enamored with it.
And his friend Kevin Garnett has both the interest and the money.
Howard tries to reconcile with his wife (after he's had an argument
with the girlfriend). He's
focusing everything on a really big score, a gamble on the 7th
game of the NBA championships, provided, of course, that Kevin Garnett
plays lights out, which Howard is convinced is going to happen.
So convinced that he bets money that doesn't belong to him.
Yes, greed seems to be the centerpiece for the whole movie, but
Sandler's natural charm sugar-coats his otherwise profane character.
Why not root for him to score big on a preposterous parlay bet?
Though Howard is not a model citizen, somehow he's endearing,
anyway. And that may just be
because of Sandler's out-of-character performance.