At the time this movie came out in 2003, steady business within pool halls that catered only to pool players was (and still is) all but extinct. The movie The Hustler came out in the sixties, and all of the sudden everyone went out and bought a pool cue and starting frequenting pool halls because that movie had made it seem just so awesome. Just as that was dying down about twenty years later, the sequel (The Color of Money) came out and gave the pool industry the kick in the pants it needed again. Fast forward another 20 years, with pool's popularity on the wane, and this movie is released, the only problem is that it, yeah, it's not very good.
Let me make one thing perfectly clear: REAL POOL PLAYERS DO NOT PLAY 8 BALL, EVER! If you decide you want to play the game and you get to the point where you can beat everyone at the local pub in a game of 8 Ball, you've still got a long way to go if you want a respectable reputation amongst those who play 9 Ball, Straight Pool, 1 Pocket, and various forms of Bank. 8 Ball is what the kids down at the Y are playing, and it is so popular because it gives an advantage to the less skilled player. Say you make 4 of your balls and your opponent hasn't made 1 yet, you're doing good, right? Wrong. You now have less to shoot at and your opponent's balls are likely getting in your way. You'd think not making a shot would be a disadvantage to him, but it ends up being some sort of Bizarro World defense. So the fact that this movie depicts what are supposed to be gods of the game going head to head in some epic game of 8 Ball is utterably laughable, but not the kind of laugh they were likely going for.
Let me make another thing perfectly clear: A REAL HUSTLER WOULD NEVER WEAR A SHIRT THAT READS "HUSTLER" SO THE WHOLE WORLD KNOWS IT! It is a common notion that a pool hustler just keeps slaughtering his opponents and they are dumb enough to keep agreeing to play for more money. A real hustler must play down his game at all times, all the while never letting his opponent know how good he is. He must make his opponent feel like he legitimately had a shot at winning, that way he will keep playing. If the hustler and his opponent are playing a race to 5 series, his opponent will likely win 4 of those games, not because of his own skill, but because of the hustler's skill at throwing games while looking like he was trying to win. Hustlers don't frequent the "pool halls" that have a huge full service bar that attracts hot twenty something women on Friday nights. Hustlers are in dark and seedy pool rooms on a Tuesday night playing people of their own caliber and often begging the owners to stay open another hour.
If some dude in a faux hawk and his Hustler tee shirt challenges you to a game of 8 Ball, have no fear, he's a sap.
But while he is a sap in the real world of pool, he is the hero of this bastardization of not only the pool industry but also cinema as a whole. This movie could have not only illustrated what's going on these days in pool halls, but it could have also given this generation a genuine interest in the game, had it been done right. In the Hustler, they played straight pool, which was relevant and reflective to the time the movie was released. In The Color of Money, the played 9 Ball, a game whose accelerated pace was also reflective of the time the film was released. I guess, in a way, Poolhall Junkies reflected its period, but not for pool players, but rather for non pool players who think they are pool players. They throw around cliché terminology (that no one uses anymore) and introduce a few lame hustles and tricks to look out for that could ONLY go over on a non pool playing audience.
I'm sorry to say, and I never thought I would have to, but not even Christopher Walken could save this bad boy.