The new film by Mark and Michael Polish, who debuted with the gloomily bizarre “Twin Falls Idaho” (1999) involving a pair of Siamese twins, perfectly captures the pointlessness and ennui of a penurious karaoke devotee’s ramblings through the byways of the deep midwest in search of victories at dowdy bars (the town of Jackpot, Nevada is his ultimate destination, hence the title). But who in his right mind wants to share the experiences of a dull-witted, justifiably unappreciated drifter with an extraordinarily dumb dream? “Jackpot” certainly does a fine job of depicting the emptiness of its protagonist’s life, but does nothing more than that, and when the fellow’s manager at one point remarks that “Less is more,” you might be prompted to reply that while that might be true in choosing a song to sing to the accompaniment of canned music, it’s certainly not necessarily the case in a movie. For the audience this dreary piece is truly a losing proposition. It almost makes one nostalgic for last year’s mediocre but fitfully amusing karaote- themed “Duets.”

The picture does, at least, boast an intriguingly eclectic cast, even if it has a hole at the middle in its lead. Jon Gries, a lanky sort who favors the dress and mannerisms of a cowpoke, isn’t terribly interesting as the obsessive Sunny Holiday (a nom de karaoke, of course), though it’s really not his fault: as written the character is annoyingly opaque rather than sympathetic, and his apparent popularity with the ladies is simply inexplicable. (He does, after all, remark at one point “I’m just an asshole,” a sentiment with which most of the audience will be all too quick to agree.) Sunny travels about in a run-down heap accompanied by his long-suffering but endlessly supportive manager Les, played by SNL’s Garrett Morris with a canny, rather endearing touch of sleaze. Also on display periodically is Daryl Hannah as the wife Sunny’s abandoned (along with their young daughter) in pursuit of his goal. In what amount to cameo parts we find such folk as Adam Baldwin, Cindy Lu, Peggy Lipton, Rick Overton and Anthony Edwards, and the voice of Patrick Bauchau, who appeared in “Twin Falls,” can be heard as a radio announcer. The curious assortment of players allows for isolated moments of interest, but most of the episodes–including a strange interlude in which Sunny goes home with an injured patron from a bar (Crystal Bernard) and then sleeps chastely with the woman’s underage daughter Tangerine (Carmellia Clouse)–are so flat and desultory that it’s practically impossible for the performers to make them at all engrossing. A viewer is just as likely to doze off somewhere along the way as Sunny is while riding through the Kansas prairie in the dead of night.

The picture does mark something of a technical advance, since it’s shot in widescreen format using high-definition video, and the look is surprisingly effective. (One wonders whether such products will be eligible for cinematography awards.) The appearance, however, is no compensation for the lack of content. At one point in “Jackpot,” a character quotes a line from Winston Churchill which would be good advice for anyone sitting through the movie: “When you’re going through hell, just keep going.” How true.