Monday, November 12, 2012

Rounders (1998)

Synopsis: It’s basically Poolhall Junkies…with cards!

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “Dealt a painful lesson when he blows his hard-earned savings in a high-stakes, underground card club, master poker player Mike (Matt Damon) thinks he’s played his final hand when he gives up gambling for law school and a fresh start with his beautiful girlfriend (Gretchen Mol).”

What Did I Learn?: 1) if you can’t spot the sucker in your first half hour at the poker table, you’re the sucker. 2) Never, ever do a favour for a buddy who just got out of prison.

You Might Like This Movie If: There’s nothing you enjoy more than, um...rounding. [warning: this is awful]

Really?: 1) Mike has a chance to bang Famke Janssen..and he doesn’t take it?! Come on… 2) Wouldn’t Worm at least ask for a ride back to New York, or at least to the bus station? Their game with the state troopers is apparently a five-hour drive each way. 3) Is Mike actually present with the judges during their card game long enough to read their hands? That seems a bit contrived. 4) So, is Mike’s girlfriend rich, or something? How the fuck do two law students afford a spacious and beautiful Manhattan apartment? 5) Since when is it a Mitzvah to help an indebted gambler by giving him more money with which to gamble?

Rating: As I watched Rounders, I kept thinking it seemed highly derivative of Poolhall Junkies… the gifted gambler who turns his back on the big game, the young punk who gets himself in trouble, the unsympathetic girlfriend in law school, etc… (In reality, Poolhall Junkies ripped off Rounders, so I can’t be too harsh). Rounders is an entertaining movie with some solid performances (Martin Landau has a wonderful scene where his character attempts to provide some career guidance to Mike with a roundabout story), even if it is a bit predictable and seems to glorify gambling. 8/10 stars.

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