Warning: Spoilers for Jerry and Marge are getting big!
Bryan Cranston’s character in “Jerry and Marge are Getting Big” perfectly reverses his iconic role as Walter White in “Breaking Bad.” The film is based on the true story of Jerry and Marge Selby (Bryan Cranston and Annette Benning), who won more than $26 million in the Massachusetts lottery thanks to an unnoticed loophole. Released exclusively on Paramount+, the film bears another significant resemblance to the Breaking Bad universe, in addition to the casting of Bryan Cranston and Michael McKean from Better Call Saul.
Both “Breaking Bad” and “Jerry and Marge are Going Big” are, in fact, stories about men who realize their wasted potential by the end of their lives. After an incurable cancer diagnosis, Walter White from Breaking Bad used his skills as a chemist to infiltrate the Albuquerque drug business and secure his family’s financial future. Trying to adjust to retirement age, Jerry Selby uses his considerable mathematical abilities to find a mistake in the lottery, which quite legitimately guarantees a win every time. Apart from the stark contrast in the legality of each scheme, it is how both men react to their successes that really sets them apart.
Bryan Cranston was inspired by the candidate for the role of Jerry Selby, who, despite similar intelligence, is everything that Walter White is not, flipping the role of “Breaking Bad”. Walter was an angry and embittered narcissist, but Jerry is a warm, slightly shy and friendly pillar of society. Jerry really cares about other people besides himself, which is not the case with Walter White. Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad was someone Walter could manipulate into achieving his goals. Walter recognized the value of Jesse as an able and, most importantly, obedient assistant, ensuring his continued survival until he became useless. Rain Wilson’s slacker, a convenience store salesman at Jerry and Marge, could be a similar puppet in Jerry’s scheme, but he is attracted to the work and reaps the benefits. Jerry and Marge are also enlisting their family, friends and neighbors as investors in their business, GS Investment Strategies LLC, investing these investments in buying more lottery tickets to ensure better odds and bigger prizes. This is a hospitable and egalitarian corporation, far from the arrogance, distrust and Shakespearean tragedy of Walter White’s criminal empire.
Marge from Annette Benning also changes the role of Skyler White
Annette Benning, who plays Jerry’s wife Marge, also solves problems with Skyler White from Breaking Bad. Jerry begins the film by hiding his activities from Marge. He withdraws thousands of dollars from their account to test his lottery theory, and behaves suspiciously when she catches him watching the drawing. Instead of launching an elaborate campaign of lies and deception like Walter White, Jerry breaks down very quickly after a family barbecue and tells her everything. He’s not a liar like Walter White; he’s a good man who respects his wife. This is fair considering that her fleeting comment about luck sets up his lottery ticket purchase system. Their professional lottery game revives Jerry and Marge’s marriage, giving them a common interest that had eluded them until now during Jerry’s retirement. Unlike Skyler, Marge is fully voluntarily involved in Jerry’s scheme, and it is Marge who suggests that they use the winnings to improve their sick hometown.
The destructive actions of Walter White in the image of Heisenberg were aimed solely for the benefit of himself and his family, and for this purpose he would sacrifice anyone. Jerry and Marge, on the other hand, want to use their winnings to bring back the local jazz festival and help local businesses. Instead of “Breaking Bad” allusions to Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” “Jerry and Marge are Getting Big” have much more in common with the story of Robin Hood, ideally turning the cult antihero Bryan Cranston into something much more positive.