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Published on June 21st, 2008 | by simeon

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Two For The Money

The fall often brings the changing of the leaves and cooler weather, but for many men, fall is the start of Football season. For many, this time honored tradition that has given rise to terms such as “Football Widow”, “tailgating”, and “Super Bowl Party”, is a welcome diversion from the week, and something that is looked forward to all week.

There are also those who look forward to the games for other reasons, such as gambling. In a multi-billion dollar industry, gamblers spend hours looking over the injury reports, betting lines, and handicapping reports in an effort to gain any edge they can find.

In the new film Two for the Money, viewers are shown the highs, lows, and manipulations that can come from high stakes gambling. Brandon Lang (Matthew Mc Conaughey), a star Quarterback whose dreams of playing as a professional end due to a knee injury.

Reduced, to recording messages for a 900 service to make a living, Brandon is given the chance to record his projections for the coming weekend’s games. In no time, Brandon is racking up a very impressive win/loss record which draws the attention of Walter Abrams, (Al Pacino), who whisks Brandon to New York and wants to make him the cornerstone of his advising service.

In no time, Brandon is given a new look, a new stage name, and is center stage making the predictions. The wins start to pile up as does the money which causes bitterness amongst certain staff members who resent the lavish amounts of attention that Brandon is getting from Walter.

Brandon becomes caught up in the life of money, a fast car, and lavish living, and soon finds himself losing touch with his true self. It is at this point that things start to change in Brandon’s fortunes and he must find a way to get himself back on track, before his life spins horribly out of control.

The catchy premise of the film and strong cast starts out strong but looses its way as the film unfolds. Pacino is as effective as always, but his portrayal of Walter as a man obsessed with winning at all costs and his family is often sharply contrasted. In one scene we see him in a menacing light when things are going very well for him, yet when you think he should be going over the top in a time of crisis, he is restrained and unconcerned.

While the above is a good portrayal of the duality of the character, it does not make for high drama as he never does explode. The shoe never does drop, he shows menace, you wait for the moment, where he will turn on those around him, yet it never fully arises.

Rene Russo does a good job as the loyal wife who has mixed feelings about her life. She loves Walter and their daughter but hates gambling, and urges Brandon to walk away from it all. She is good in her scenes but she is not given enough to allow her to shine.

Mc Conaughey is good in his part as his character seems to be an interesting contrast in duality. He has no problem in asking people to bet thousands of dollars on his picks, yet his is unwilling to gamble. He likes the money and fame that comes with his position yet frets over not getting calls from his mother. The part starts strong but the character ultimately comes off bland and unsympathetic.

While not a bad film, Two for the Money ultimately is hindered by the pacing of the film which tends to drag, uneven characters, and a lack of tension. This becomes very clear and towards the last half of the film as much of the interest in the characters and their situations are lost.

2.5 stars out of 5.


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