Gambling: Carolyn, a novelist, is losing her family's savings at the slots; she's befriended by a close-up magician who dreams of making it big. A murdered bookie has the cops focused on Victor, who fronts for the mysterious, never-seen Ivan. Augie and Murph, two other bookies ply their partnership, which is endangered by an offer from Victor to Augie and by Murph's girlfriend's rejection of his violent vocation. A mechanic, in debt to his bookies, asks his basketball-playing brother to shave some points. A paraplegic cop sees all. Will anyone reach their dream? The odds are against it. Written by
Nearly all the basketball scenes begin with a three or four note fanfare that seems intended to be jarring. These notes are actually the beginning of a fight song shared by both the University of California and UCLA. See more »
Godfrey Snow is Clyde Snow's little brother but the DVD box synopsis calls Godfrey a nephew to Clyde. See more »
Like I said we're all chasin somethin. More money. More love. What we're really looking for is more life. But sometimes you go looking for more, and you wind up with less. It's a beautiful world. We ought to be satisfied. But the truth is... we all want more. Some take a chance for the rush of winning. Some for love. But you can't have your dream without laying something on the line. The key is not to risk what you can't afford to lose. You might think you're different. But someday... you're ...
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"Even Money" is an ensemble drama that aims to be the Traffic or Syriana of gambling, but comes off closer to Crasha trite amalgam of scenes we've seen many, many times before. The fact that you've heard so little about a film with such an impressive cast (Kim Basinger, Ray Liotta, Danny DeVito, Tim Roth, Kelsey Grammar, Nick Cannon, Jay Mohr, Carla Gugino, Forest Whitaker) should tell you something; indeed, the scuttlebutt on the ol' World Wide Internets is that the film was headed straight to DVD until Whitaker picked up the Oscar.
The cast is mostly good, but there's only so much that they can do with this material. Basinger and Liotta are especially hard up, stranded in a story thread that is older than the hills; poor Carla Gugino is stuck playing the same scene (by my count) three times straight, which is a criminal misuse of an actress as intelligent and sexy as she. Tim Roth has some nice moments as an especially snarky bad guy, though this viewer wondered if he would really show up at the college basketball game that provides the film's climax (with a resolution that can be clearly seen the moment the story turn is introduced). Kelsey Grammar (nearly unrecognizable) appears, at the film's beginning, to be doing an interesting piece of character acting as a cop, but he then disappears for over an hour, which makes his character's big final scene somewhat less than compelling.
"Even Money" is a mess, an attempt to manufacture a prestige picture by throwing many talented actors at a script whose most complex insight appears to be "gambling is bad". We should expect as much from producer Bob Yari, who gave us the aforementioned "Crash" ("racism is bad"). Director Mark Rydell has helmed a couple of successful films ("On Golden Pond", "The Cowboys") and some interesting failures ("Intersection", "The Rose"), but when he pops up briefly as a powerful figure at the end of "Even Money", all I could think of was his similar acting role in Altman's "The Long Goodbye", and how much I'd rather be watching that movie than this one.
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