Win It All

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Win It All Movie Poster Image
Fresh dramedy about gambler has mature themes, cursing.
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 88 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

With ample motivation, the help of friends and loved ones, as well as with a little luck, it's possible to turn one's life around, no matter how far one has fallen. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The likable hero, a degenerate gambler with a dead-end life, faces numerous obstacles, most of which he has brought on himself, but strives to turn his life around. After succumbing to his addiction, and several false starts, he begins to make the crucial transition. Though he's disappointed the people who care for him many times before, they prove to be supportive and exhibit faith in him despite his past behavior. Portrays solid family relationships. Ethnic diversity throughout.


Suspenseful scenes.


Kisses. One scene shows passionate embracing and kissing played in shadows, leading to off-screen sex. No nudity.


Frequent profanity: "f--k," "s--t," "Jesus Christ," "bulls--t," "asshole," "vagina."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking in multiple scenes (beer, shots). Characters smoke, and in one scene use marijuana.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Win It All is a 2017 Netflix Original movie. It's an offbeat, character-driven drama, with plenty of humor, about a down-on-his-luck inveterate gambler. Once again, director Joe Swanberg, noted for his naturalistic, improvisational movies, tells an intimate story with topnotch performers. His hero, not unexpectedly, falls prey to his addiction to gaming -- or more likely his addiction to losing money -- and then must extricate himself from the possibly dire consequences of his behavior. Expect suspense, romance, and lots of profanity (i.e., "f--k," "s--t," "asshole"). Characters drink, smoke, and, in one scene, use marijuana. One brief sequence shows two lovers in passionate embraces and foreplay; no nudity. Mature situations and themes make this appropriate only for teens and adults. 

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What's the story?

A cloak-and-dagger infusion of money is exactly what gambling addict Eddie Garrett (Jake Johnson) does not need in WIN IT ALL. But when an old friend asks him to keep a zipped-up-tight duffel bag while he's serving a 6-9-month prison sentence, Eddie is quick to say yes. Especially when Eddie's "fee" for safeguarding it will be $10,000. Of course, he promises, he won't open it. Eddie stashes the bag, goes about his business: parking cars; visiting his upstanding brother, Ron (Joe Lo Truglio); connecting with his ever-patient Gamblers Anonymous sponsor, Gene (Keenan-Michael Key); even introducing himself to the beautiful Ava (Aislinn Derbez), the woman who could be "the one." Still, that duffel calls to Eddie. What could hurt? He'll just take $ 5,000 of the vast fortune he finds in the bag. And he'll put it right back! Unfortunately, putting it back is not in Eddie Garrett's DNA. Losing a bundle is. So, when that same old friend calls back to let Eddie know he's being released from prison early, Eddie's number -- and not his lucky one -- is, is up. He has only days and very few resources to put back all that he's gambled away. For Eddie, it's a race to save his newly-found abstinence, a relationship that just might be perfect, and maybe even his life. Everyone in his life (and in the audience) wants him to survive; it's only Eddie who sabotages his own redemption.

Is it any good?

Solid acting and a fresh take on a compulsive gambler's life combine with charm supplied by indie director Joe Swanson to make this smart film a well-balanced mix of suspense, heart, and humor. It's hard not to root for the incorrigible Eddie, even though his humongous, inevitable mistakes are telegraphed early, from miles down the track. Jake Johnson (who cowrote the script) makes the most of this original, multifaceted character. He's surrounded by a talented ensemble of improv performers: Key of Key and Peele, Lo Triglio of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Derbez, a celebrated Mexican actress. Even better news, though we're in Eddie's corner from the start, the outcome is in question until the final scenes. And, the multiple poker games are just detailed enough so that they never become repetitious or tiresome. Thoughtful, naturalistic, with both funny and touching moments, Win It All is worth seeing for older teens and their parents.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the fact that Win It All is substantially improvised. What characterizes "improvisational filmmaking?" How does it feel and/or sound different from scripted movies? Do you find improved movies appealing? Why or why not? 

  • Improvisational filmmaking is a team effort. Find out about how those involved prepare for the work. In addition to acting skills, what qualities are required of the actors?

  • Think about Eddie's gambling addiction as it is portrayed in Win It All. Are you aware that folks who are members of Gamblers Anonymous (GA) -- based on Alcoholics Anonymous -- have a very low recovery rate?  Since there are no substances involved (i.e., drugs, alcohol), what factors might contribute to making recovery so difficult?

  • What elements in Eddie's life do you think impacted the film's final resolution? In what ways did he count on his relationships for help? What should friends and family do (or not do) to support someone with an addiction? 

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dramas and comedies

Themes & Topics

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