By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Sep 20, 2001 at 4:52 AM

Now, more than ever, people are out searching for their 15 minutes of fame. It seems everyone wants to be on TV or in the newspaper. Look at America's current fixation with reality television. People are willing to do anything for a moment in the spotlight.

But there are still people out there trying to obtain fame and fortune the old fashioned way; by earning it. One of those people is Sunny Holiday (Jon Gries).

Sunny, the protagonist of "Jackpot," the second film from the Polish brothers (their first being the superb "Twin Falls, Idaho"), is an aspiring country-western singer. He travels around the country with his manager, Lester Irving (Garrett Morris), performing in bars in bleak little towns.

Sunny and Lester live day to day on the winnings from the bar contests. Sometimes they are paid with home appliances.

Back home, Sunny has a wife (Daryl Hannah) and young child that he has abandoned. He mails her lottery tickets every so often, his own desperate form of child support.

The ultimate goal for Sunny is making it to Los Angeles, but Lester tells Sunny that first he must pay his dues. Together, in a 1983 pink Chrysler, they have many misadventures on the road, including Sunny's frequent encounters with single, lonely and willing women.

In addition to the fact that "Jackpot" is a nicely observed, well acted and enjoyable film, the Polish Brothers (Michael and Mark) deserve credit for making a movie that is immensely different from their debut feature. They are proving themselves to be among the most talented filmmakers in independent cinema.

The relationship between Sunny and Lester is the heart of the movie, and it is a healthy one. They are well-written and authentic characters. Their friendship is rings true throughout. They bicker but stick together through thick and thin. Both actors are great, especially Morris, who needs to act more.

"Jackpot" is also consistently hilarious, eliciting humor from the clueless yet determined Sunny and the many strange people he and Lester encounter on their travels. It's far more than just an ordinary road trip.

This is one of the first movies to be shot on the new 24P HD camcorder from Sony. It's crisply photographed by M. David Mullen and he creates the perfect look with the new camera. It highlights the grimy places visited by the characters.

"Jackpot" does slip a little as it comes to an end. It is unable to sustain the mood it has established and wrap it all up in a satisfying way.

But this is a unique and entertaining journey. Sunny Holiday and Lester Irving are two outstanding characters, and with them, the audience is in good hands.

Grade: B+

"Jackpot" opens on Fri., Sept. 21 at Landmark's Downer Theatre.