Bookies (2003) Poster


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An enjoyable movie
pushfrog_200014 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
A good soundtrack, excellent acting, and a pleasing enough plot to keep you from growing bored are the strong points of this movie. Unfortunately, underplayed characters, clichés, and lack of subject knowledge held it back from its full potential.

The trio of idiotic genius' are helmed masterfully by their actors, with Johnny Galecki stealing the show when his character starts slipping into the world of easy money. Unfortunately, none of the characters are new or fresh.

Casey, a shy nerd whom we rarely get to see anything of, joins the crew when another character decides to "adopt" him because he was lost his first day on campus - despite unwittingly setting the plans in motion, his character does little besides provide a contrasting personality to the other two leads.

Jude is a womanizing party boy who is the main schemer of the group. He is also addicted to everything, making him very, very attached the money and the thrill of gaining it. He tends to be the more spirited of the three, getting himself into the most trouble. He also provides comedy relief.

Finally, the main "hero", Tobey, is excited about the plan, but is more focused on the attractive Hunter, played by Rachel Leigh Cook. He is the child prodigy who smooths over some of the bumpier problems, and tries to keep Jude from blowing things over the top.

These three put their plans into action, only to have a problem getting word out. After a conman's maneuver, our three characters are rolling in money, and the trouble begins.

Really, the movie tries hard to be a jack of all trades, and in trying to do so fails at being fully delightful at anything. The romance is unbelievable between Hunter and Tobey, and highly forgotten until it becomes convenient. The supposed brotherly feelings between Jude and Tobey is also lost to the wind, as the chemistry between actors just isn't there. The plot calls for the suspension of disbelief in every scene involving the mafia, who are tame and uncreative. It also has, in my opinion, a cheesy cop-out ending.

By the time the credits roll, you really couldn't care less what happens to the characters. In fact, in the case of Jude, you might even be wishing things had turned disastrous for them.

However, it was a fun film, and one I'd recommend to my friends for a lazy afternoon viewing.
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Witty and Interesting, but Derivative
dimarinc1 March 2012
Bookies was a good movie. It had a fast pace that didn't leave you behind and didn't tread. It had some good acting, especially by Johnny Galecki. It had an engaging plot and interesting enough characters. However, the characters were left feeling rigid and inaccessible and at times the movie coasted without enlightening.

Bookies was an intriguing movie from the common format of a Blow type movie. Watching a young group of three guys set up a sports betting ring, listening to their clever intricacies, then watching it fall apart. Even cocaine makes an appearance in this movie. What I thought was very interesting was some of the piece shots and how some audio montage clips were assembled very well. As i stated the acting was good, but Johnny Galecki made it that way. He outperformed everyone. Without him the acting was a bit stiff.

There were some problems with this movie. I enjoy a movie that spends the time to establish the plot then moves through it briskly. But at times this movie jets from one situation to another without explaining how certain events happened. Given the fast plot, this created some confusion. Also I don't think Bookies did anything to distinguish itself. But, it is a type of movie that there are so few of, that I don't care too much.

I would recommend this movie to anyone. It's not going to wow you, but it is worth the watch.
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Good flick, Worth it for Galecki alone.
VinceRocca21 April 2005
Johnny Galecki is great in Bookies. His performance is nothing less then stellar. I've seen him before in other things, but always dismissed him as character actor. He shines in Bookies. If this movie had a higher budget, his performance would have garnered him an award. Galecki plays Jude, which is the most developed character in the movie. Also the character I hated. That's probably why I noticed Galecki's excellent performance.

Rachel Lee Cook sadly has the weakest character. Her acting wasn't weak, her character was. Without giving anything away, there is a scene where Stahl tells her he has given up, then she lectures him that he should give up, I'm sorry, didn't he just say he did give up??

The plot gets weak toward the end. You'll need to lend some creative license, but not so much that it enters the "Oh Come ON!" stage.

Good movie, worth the rental, or even purchase it in the bargain bin.
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bookmaking dorm
kairingler4 June 2010
watched this the other day on IFC, pretty interesting movie about college guys trying to make a buck. they set up a bare bones bookmaking system with an illicit way of picking up and dropping off money. as they make more money , they upgrade to computers and the like,, only problem is the mob soon finds out what the young men are up to,, then it starts to get very interesting. not a bad little movie, especially for an independent,, it's a study in bookmaking old school i guess you would say.. everything from writing bets down on a marker board to a massive computer system,, i particularly like the express drop off and pick up at the local library,, taking envelopes full of cash and stuffing them into books that have never ever been checked out,, very sneaky but brilliant also.
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Easy to watch
t-excel4 April 2005
This is what every school going teenager dreams of. i always thought the Netherlands where missing out on a lot. we don't have school campuses here in the Netherlands, i love the idea of living on one over these. Doesn't matter if you see it in the movies or hear from people who studied in the us, the stories always sound amazing. This is one of the amazing examples what teenagers whit an idea and enough balls can accomplish. to bad they had to give it up. and "Rachael Leigh Cook"...what a FOXX!!!!

My Final conclusion; It's a easy to watch, entertaining & exciting story. well played by the actors. Love to see a part 2 on this movie.
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Amateur Film-making! Muddied and Inaccurate Portrayal of Gambling!
lavatch12 November 2005
"Bookies" offers a glimpse into gambling that lacks basic insights into the fundamentals of sports betting and the psychology of gambling.

The story focuses on three college students who start a bookmaking business on campus, and they immediately attract a thriving and seemingly endless supply of customers. The film suggests that gambling is a novelty, ignoring the fact that anyone may go to the internet and place a bet on a sporting event.

The psychological mindset of the three students was another shortcoming of this film. We did not see addictive personalities or much of the pressures that should have been apparent on three students who were breaking the law in running their bookmaking operation. Instead, the only pressure came from a rival pair of mob-like bookies, not from the inept campus police.

There are two very fine independent films, "Stuey" and "Bought and Sold" that get to the heart of gambling as an addition. Those two films offer better acting, directing, and screen writing than the amateur style of the "Bookies." I wager 10-to-1 that this film will never make it over the 6.0 rating in the IMDb rankings!
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fun movie
paul-4152 October 2004
saw this flick in Blockbuster and was intrigued. I like sports gambling and thought this was a unique and smart movie that addresses the subject in a very clever way. Great actors with some good music and fun plot twists. Not sure why this never went to the movie theaters. It had gone to The Sundance Film Festival and it has NICK STAHL from Terminator III and HBO's CARNIVALE, not to mention Lukas Haas and Rachael Leigh Cook. AND the greatest actor from THE SOPRANOS--David Proval, the guy that played RICHIE APRILE. Saw that writer of this co wrote MANIC, which is an AWESOME movie that I actually saw at THE SUNDANCE FILM FEST a few years ago. That movie had DON CHEADLE in it and he is an acting god. If you like smart movies with some good dialogue that handles the topic of sports gambling on college campuses, go rent BOOKIES! I bet you'll like it (hey, I couldn't resist that last line).
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Wanna Bet?
wes-connors4 May 2012
A trio of college students - business major Nick Stahl (as Toby Winter), addictive roommate Johnny Galecki (as Jude Petra) and computer geeky Lukas Haas (as Casey Young) - decide to become "Bookies" and make money taking bets on the ballgames they watch. They become very successful, then attract the criminal element. A few years ago, writer Michael Bacall might well have played the role characterized by Mr. Galecki, which may be why it had the most potential...

The likable leading role is given to Mr. Stahl, who gets to narrate and pursue cute Rachel Leigh Cook (as Hunter McGuire); an athletic babe, her soccer t-shirt reads, "I love kicking balls." Director Mark Illsley scores with a stylish chase combined with a frantic foosball game. His quarter toss and jump ball shots are neat, too. But, the movie's simply way too clean, which may explain a messy post-credits scene.

**** Bookies (1/20/03) Mark Illsley ~ Nick Stahl, Johnny Galecki, Rachel Leigh Cook, Lukas Haas
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POSSIBLE SPOILER thought it was perfect!
art_elephant18 November 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Most of the critiques of this movie are accurate, but that's why I loved it!

I'm not a fan of hardcore mobster stuff, I'm not a gambler, I'm not a college student anymore, but this lets my imagination get into those worlds just a little bit. It gets my mind off the daily grind, without having to get into really disturbing drama in any issue. I'm a guy with little money to spend, and I passed on several big name movies to pick up this one, cause I knew it would be exactly this, and I was not disappointed! The performances are believable enough, the girls are cute enough, the editing is quick enough, the 'vette is cool enough, and that's enough for me!
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Over hyped, Over Exaggerated, Just Plain...Over
industryguy_1420 January 2003
It's about 11:30 PM PST on January 20, 2003, and I'm just returning back to my hotel room after a long day of schmoozing and watching films at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival. While there are some solid films that have already played at Sundance, there's a fair amount of schlock as well. I am not one to usually write about these films or review them on the imdb, but I just saw something that I need to write about. So after viewing this debacle, I headed back to my room, plugged my laptop into the wall, and began typing the following review for Mark Illsley's Bookies, a screeing I caught at 8:30 PM at The Prospector Sqaure Theatre: I'll be the first to say that I tend to favor films about gambling. I find the topic facinating, and when they are done right, they usually make good films. Usually. That is not the case here, however. Having known many real bookies in my day (an acquaintance of mine was sent up for five years after getting busted for running an operation out of a moving Winnebago. When I have enough money, I plan on buying the rights to his story and will attempt on getting the story made...but that's another story), I was hoping that this would be a gritty take on the world of bookmaking. What I saw was a bastardized and warped take on the subject. Cliche after Hollywood cliche came flying at me one after another, the most notable was the whole "mafia" thing. In reality, the mafia doesn't affect a small time bookie. Out of 100 bookmaking operations out there, perhaps 1 might rub elbows with the Cosa Nostra, and that's pushing it. The reality of the situation is that the biggest problems a bookie faces is their own stupidity, dead beat clients, the occasional ambitious cop, and other scum in that world. NOT the mafia! Furthermore, the facts are all wrong, down to even the simplest things like the types of bets that are described in the film. It seems like the producers, the writer, and the director pooled together their limited knowledge of the subject and the result was this mess on celluloid. Or perhaps the problem is simply the director since he's supposed to be the one who steers the boat. I saw Mark Illsley walking around a lot during the festival, wearing his trademark cowboy hat. I don't know. Perhaps his hat is on too tight and it's cutting off the air flow to his head hampering his decision making. But I digress... Looking at the financial prospects of this film, I would be shocked if an indie distributor picked up the rights to this one. With all the better product out there to invest in factored together with Illsley's track record (Happy, Texas played here 4 years ago to sizable buzz. Miramax overpaid for the rights to the film, $10 million to be exact, only to see that film gross only $2 million at the box office. I saw that film here 4 years ago and couldn't figure out what all the hoopla was about then, and I don't understand what the big deal is now regarding this one), it is suggested that you do NOT bet on these BOOKIES. For a good film about the world of gambling, check out THE COOLER starring William H. Macy and Alec Baldwin. Now THAT's the stuff dreams are made of.
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Not bad , interesting subject.
deloudelouvain25 December 2021
Bookies sometimes feels like a tv-movie but that doesn't mean it was a bad movie. It's just not a high budget movie, again nothing wrong with that, but it made it look like it was ready to be aired on television and nothing else. The story isn't bad though, it's easy to watch and the acting was decent. Johnny Galecki finally plays in something else than that dumb show The Big Bang Theory (never got what all the fuss was about with that show), and he did okay. I wouldn't categorize this movie in the comedy genre though. Comedy is supposed to make you laugh and this was clearly not the case in Bookies. It's just easy entertainment, an easy to follow story with an interesting subject of gamblers and bookies.
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Cool film, no reason to hate it!
Beyondtherain14 April 2020
Just watched this movie for the first time today... This film had a good mix of funny moments and tense moments. Nick Stahl and Johnny Galecki stand out the most, I didn't really follow the whole betting bookie thing cause I'm not into that stuff. This is still a fun film to watch...the back of the box literally says "A COOL FILM" And it is!
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Horse Puckey
gamblinman200327 January 2003
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILER ALERT I have to agree with Industry Guy's take on this one...not even close to the real deal. I got back two days ago from Sundance...caught a lot of good flicks, suggested a few buys to my company, but told them to steer clear of this one. Being an avid gambler, I was hoping this would be a fun movie, maybe entertaining, perhaps even worthy of praise...I went 0 for 3 on this bet. My parlay went south in the first five minutes. I'd really like to know the extent of knowledge the writer, producers, and director have on the subject.

Did someone tell them they knew what they were talking about? You figure for a few thousand dollars they could have hired a consultant to red line the script and make it at least resemble reality. First off, if I lost a bet to these chicken necks, I would have laughed when they showed up for payment. If you're going to make a movie about gambling, at least have a character who you believe will inflict damage on a dead beat. Second, what idiot would set up an ILLEGAL bookmaking operation in their DORM ROOM? Whatever happened to discretion? Are these dolts asking to be pinched? Why not have them set it up in an off campus apartment? Third, the mafia??? Someone involved in the production could have at least had an iota of originality and mad the antagonist someone other than an Italian mobster!!! How cliche. Furthermore, if the mob caught wind of their operation (which they wouldn't), they would have muscled in for a piece of the action...NOT run them off. Fourth...fixing basketball games, shaving points, blah blah blah. The sad thing is, the money spent on this movie could have been given to someone who actually knows about the world of gambling and the result could have been a decent film. All that we're left with, however, is this piece of nonsense.
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Barely Mediocre Warning: Spoilers

I took Paul 415's advice who billed this flick as a 'fun movie' and went to my video store and rented BOOKIES. I am glad he had fun watching it...I really didn't.

When I re-read Paul's's seemed like he was plugging the movie instead of writing something about it. Talking about who is in it, what they were in before, who wrote it, what the writer wrote before...just seemed like an over-glorified plug. Then I looked at the Paul really Paul Greenstone, the producer of the movie? Maybe it's just a coincidence.

Here's an actual review of the movie. I didn't hate it, I didn't like it.

At the end, I was wondering why it was even made. Here's my point by point analysis of all facets of the production, as interpreted by just another movie goer:

Performances: Nick Stahl and Johnny Galecki were standouts.

However, they seemed to look lost a lot of the time, like they were trying to figure out their motivation. Like they had a severe lack of direction. This applies more so to Stahl, as I feel he's a superb actor. But it didn't seem there was anything there to sink his teeth into.

Rachel Leigh Cook was weak here. Way way way miscast for this role. I know she's a name, but c'mon. She did not fit the part. David Proval. I agree with Paul, he was one of the best actors on the Sopranos. But he was totally under utilized here. He was like a one-dimensional cookie cutter mobster. Same thing with his co-hort John Diehl. Here was a chance for director Mark Illsley to shine, instead, he just lets these fine actors waste away. In fact, one could construe that these mobsters were homosexual lovers.

In all their scenes, they are alone. The restaurant scene stands out... no broads, no goomas, no strippers...I was waiting for them to share a kiss! That would have been at least interesting. If you're going to follow a cliché, then do it with some panache. Have fun with it. Instead, these guys are just sitting there, reciting their lines, as if they were waiting for their paycheck from production.

And they weren't even bad guys you love to hate...

Dialogue: Very forced and out of touch. When the basketball player said, "So I'm your n-word now, is that it?" I wanted to puke. The editing and camera was interesting, but it wasn't anything that hasn't been done before. Same camera/editing tricks, different movie.

Plot...a lot that went on on this college campus was not plausible. The money in the books idea was interesting, but not without a huge margin of error.

When I was in college, partying and carrying on in a dorm room like that would never happen, and neither would a functional bookmaking operation...I know you can say, "It's just a movie!" but shouldn't movies try to resemble reality?

Furthermore, the ending was very anti-climactic. When it's revealed that they bet on the other side of the fixed bet, I was staring at the screen thinking, 'That's it? That's the ending? That's the payoff?' I WANT MY MONEY BACK!

Character arc. At the end, do these guys learn anything? No.

Other than 'we made a lot of money, but there was too much risk involved.' They didn't grow...nothing learned, nothing gained.

I think the main problem with this movie was it's direction. From what I know about Mark Illsley, he's a middle aged guy from Northern Cali. Why not bring in someone younger with some edge to direct this film? Why not even let the writer, Michael Bacall, direct? He wrote it, he must know something about the subject, plus he's younger than Illsley...why not? Oh yeah, Illsley stirred up a lot of buzz at Sundance in '99. Well, lightning doesn't strike twice it seems. Illsley's age and hip factor were extremely apparent here...he simply did not know about this world enough to have been given the director's cap.

I did see Manic, it is good, it is well done, and I cannot believe this script was totally the result of Michael Bacall. Maybe earlier drafts of the script were better, and there might have been too much director meddling. The result is a barely mediocre movie.

The only difference between this movie and the made for TV movie "Bigshot" is that these characters say the f-word a lot, and one of them uses drugs. Otherwise, this totally could have been made for TV. But then again, it was done smarter and better already with "Bigshot."

Sad. This really is an interesting topic, and it really could have been made into a great movie. The potential to actually say something was wasted away...ah, such is Hollywood...
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Sorry to say it, but I have a negative review here
agoldfarbfilm24 January 2003
This past Tuesday, While taking in the whole "Sundance experience," I got up early to see Mark Illsley's "Bookies." I was very disappointed, and would have been well served to sleep in. I recall the buzz that surrounded Illsley a few years ago (Happy Texas), and was very curious as to how he would follow up that... project. I should have left it at curiosity.

I'm not sure where exactly to begin, and I'm not going to do a point by point analysis here. My overarching feeling is that I dont' understand why this film was made. It just seems so pointless. I won't blast the acting, because a few performances were ok, and frankly, an actor can only work with what a script writer provides. The script was extremely weak and the film uncreative and obvious. Oooh - another mob related plotline! How original! I don't see how this film will find an audience, let alone be profitable. I don't even see this as a straight to video release.

My chief disappointment lies in the fact that the subject matter is very compelling. A fantastic film could be made on this subject matter. With the Superbowl right around the corner, I am reminded of how many Americans gamble - of how much money is at stake throughout an NFL season. Sure, some of that money is wagered legally in Vegas, but the lion's share of dollars at stake in "middle America" is certainly not bet through Vegas or even an offshore casino. There are people out there somewhere taking action and living a lifestyle I am curious about. Illsley's characters are not these people. And don't tell me about how the mob is out there to take back its turf. My twelve year old son could have done better(that's actually not as bad as it sounds - he is a very talented writer for a twelve year old).

Although I think this film is weak on its own merits, my chief criticism of the film is relative to the huge potential that is left on the table. I would be surprised to see this film obtain a distribution deal, particularly with the other quality films out there currently seeking such arrangements. Sorry - I hate to post negative thoughts, but this had to be said. Nothing is sadder to me than unrealized greatness.
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