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You Don't Know Jack (2010)

Not Rated | | Biography, Drama | TV Movie 24 April 2010
A look at the life and work of doctor-assisted suicide advocate Jack Kevorkian.

Director:

Barry Levinson

Writer:

Adam Mazer
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3,739 ( 160)

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Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 10 wins & 36 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Al Pacino ... Jack Kevorkian
Brenda Vaccaro ... Margo Janus
John Goodman ... Neal Nicol
Deirdre O'Connell ... Linda
Todd Susman ... Stan Levy
Adam Lubarsky Adam Lubarsky ... Brian Russell
Jennifer Mudge ... Female Reporter
Jeremy Bobb ... David Rivlin
Rutanya Alda ... Vendor
James Urbaniak ... Jack Lessenberry
Henny Russell ... Oakhill Spokesperson
Henry Strozier ... Oakhill Doctor
Sandra Seacat ... Janet Adkins
Neil Brooks Cunningham ... Rod Adkins
Susan Sarandon ... Janet Good
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Storyline

Dr. Jack Kevorkian (1928 - 2011 ) in the 1990s, when he defies Michigan law assisting the suicide of terminally-ill persons. Support comes from his sister, a lab tech, the Hemlock Society president, and a lawyer. The child of survivors of the Armenian genocide interviews applicants: his sister video tapes them. He assembles a device allowing a person to initiate a three-chemical intravenous drip. The local D.A., the governor, and the Legislature respond. In court scenes, Kevorkian is sometimes antic. He's single-minded about giving dying individuals the right to determine how their lives will end. He wants the Supreme Court to rule. He picks a fight he can't win: is it hubris or heroism? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

This man wants you to die on your own terms. See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

HBO [United States]

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 April 2010 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Untitled Jack Kevorkian Project See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$18,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Al Pacino won the Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild Award for his performance. See more »

Goofs

The Faygo bottle Jack is seen opening for Janet Good is a retro-style that wasn't put out by the company until 2007. See more »

Quotes

Jack Kevorkian: Oh, the lingering of death. What a business. Keep death alive. Hospitals don't make money otherwise. Drug companies either. If you're rich and you have the money, you can pay to die. But the poor, they can only afford to stick it out and suffer.
See more »

Connections

Spoofs The Lone Ranger (1949) See more »

Soundtracks

Copperline
Written by James Taylor & Reynolds Price
Performed by James Taylor
Courtesy of Columbia Records
By Arrangement with Sony Music Entertainment
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Compelling DocuDrama Void of Exploitation, & Pacino's Best Performance in Years
15 April 2010 | by D_BurkeSee all my reviews

If you remember the 90's, Dr. Jack Kevorkian needs no introduction. His name was as much the subject of medical controversy as it was the punchline of countless jokes. His name was as notorious to some as O.J. Simpson or Richard Ramirez, yet also as admirable to others as Bill Clinton or Michael Jordan.

In the hands of many other directors, Kevorkian's biopic could have been treated more like a farce based on the doctor's past eccentricities, such as showing up in court wearing a powdered wig. Of course, Kevorkian's unabashed behaviors in front of camera lenses are depicted in this film, but fortunately, the details of his assisted suicides are not ever given any sugar coated treatments.

"You Don't Know Jack" tells the story about Dr. Kevorkian we should already know. Taking place from approximately 1990-1999, the film takes us from Kevorkian's days of being an unemployed physician to the trial that brought an end to his morally questionable practice for good. The lighting throughout this film is dark and often times dreary, but never dull thanks foremost to an impressive performance by Al Pacino that may be his best since "Scent of a Woman".

When watching this film, there was rarely a moment where I thought to myself, "That's Al Pacino playing Dr. Kevorkian". Pacino's signature eyes and husky voice are still ever present, but he disappears into his role so effectively that I found myself saying, "That is Dr. Kevorkian". Not only is that feat so hard to accomplish for an actor so iconic as Pacino, but it's also hard to play someone who most of the American public knew so well from being on TV all the time.

While it's impressive for Pacino to play the Jack we do know, he plays the Jack many "don't know" with a wry wit that makes an appealing character, even if you don't agree with assisted suicide. A great scene involved Pacino delving a subtle verbal blow to protesters outside his apartment building. When he says that the God he believes in, namely Johann Sebastian Bach, isn't imaginary like the God the protesters believe in, you can't help but laugh. I'm Catholic, and I thought it was hilarious.

However, this movie's strength comes in its nonjudgmental view on Kevorkian's practices. The movie never tells you how you should feel, but also clears up the notion that Kevorkian practiced his assisted suicides with reckless abandon. Many of the suicides in the movie focus on the patients themselves, and their absolute certainty that they want their suffering to end. Of course, leaving their loved ones is their hardest decision, something the film indeed recognizes. Is it still wrong? This movie doesn't tell, nor should it.

What's interesting, though, is the focus on Pacino's eyes during the scene where he performs his first procedure. They move back and forth on the screen as the operation continues, and don't try to mask any emotion of any kind. It could mean that Kevorkian doesn't care about his patients, or that he cares enough about them to keep the procedure as precise as possible. The main point: You decide.

The same is true for Kevorkian's unabashed character on camera. It's all here in this film, but director Barry Levinson resists the temptation for Pacino as Kevorkian to wink and nod at the camera. Considering Levinson directed excellent character-centric comedy/dramas like "Good Morning Vietnam" and "Man of the Year", the temptation must have been there. Fortunately, he used his knack for dramas like "Rainman" and "Avalon" instead, and the effect worked wonders.

The supporting cast behind Pacino is excellent. Danny Huston is fantastic as Geoffrey Fieger, Kevorkian's successful lawyer, and is equally as good interacting with Pacino as he is in the courtroom scenes. Brenda Vaccaro, Susan Sarandon, and John Goodman are great supporting members of this film as colleagues who believe in Kevorkian's mission, but also have the outside vantage point to know what he's inevitably destined for.

Whether you agree with Kevorkian's practices or not, it is impossible not to be compelled by this movie. The story draws you in, the characters are well developed in all the right areas, and it doesn't take more than five minutes for Pacino to convince you he is Dr. Jack Kevorkian. Do you know Jack by the end of this film? I'm still not sure. But I know an excellent movie when I see one, and this deserves 10 stars. See it!


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