Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Two For the Money

Click here to go to the podcast of this review!

I've decided to start incorporating limericks into my reviews. Behold!

The world of sports betting is crazy
And morals can be somewhat hazy
In the midst of this casino
Stands a gasping Pacino
Whose acting we know is not lazy!

"Two for the Money" stars Matthew McConaughey as Brandon Lang, a former gridiron player ruled out of the game through injury. His talent for picking winners in the NFL attracts the attention of Walter Abrams (Al Pacino), an ex-gambler with a big mouth and a heart condition. Walter runs a profitable business advising gamblers on how to bet. He brings Brandon to New York, where he goes about turning him into "John Anthony" - the slick Million Dollar Man who picks it right 80 per cent of the time.

I really wasn't planning to see this film - it seemed to be your average "Innocent boy is seduced by money and the glamour of big city life, loses self, but comes good in the end" story. But once you get past the often mystifying world of American football it's a reasonably smart film with enough original angles on the psyche of gambling and addiction to make it worthwhile.

Al Pacino does give an over-the-top performance as Walter Abrams, but manages to brings humanity to the character. Walter is NOT the evil big-city seducer, luring a naive young Midwesterner into his demon lair. Sure, he offers a glittering prize, but his motive for doing so is intriguing. He's deeply flawed, and it makes an unlikeable character likeable. A gaunt-looking Rene Russo gives a strong but low-key performance as Walter's "keep-it-together" wife Toni. The central role of Brandon suits Matthew McConaughey to a tee - it doesn't really stretch his acting chops, rather, just gives him an opportunity to be boyishly charming, confident and above all - buff. Ladies beware!

This film does run 15 or 20 minutes longer than it needs too - and it also suffers from a slight conceit about its central subject of sports betting. Obviously it's aimed at American viewers who know exactly what "New York beating Green Bay by 5 points in the under" means. But if you ignore that and focus on the haggard features of Al Pacino, it's a decent way to spend 2 hours, and might make you reconsider that bet on the State of Origin!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...