With the exception of the character conversations away from the game, the entire final table scene was unscripted. Co-Writer and Director Zak Penn chose to play the entire final table for real, meaning that they did not know in advance which of the characters would win, and thus how the movie would end. Because of Ray Romano's shooting schedule, the scene between Lainie (Cheryl Hines) and Fred (Ray Romano) had to be filmed before the final table had been played. Two different scenes were shot to allow for Lainie to either win or lose. The alternative scene is included on the DVD. See more »
(at around 39 mins) when "The German" claims to have played Russian roulette with slave traders, the picture clearly shows him holding a pistol with a magazine, and not a revolver. See more »
So I managed to see The Grand a little while ago at the Puerto Vallarta Film Festival... I had no idea what to expect, as I am admittedly not particularly familiar with the director's other work. I knew some of the actors, but I'm not intimately familiar with their work, either, except for Woody Harrelson. I am a poker fan, though, so I was excited on that front. Well, let me just say that sometimes it's good to go in with no expectations because you can really find yourself getting blown away.
Woody is the biggest name in the movie and one of the funniest. He plays Jack Faro, a down-on-his-luck guy who is trying to save the Rabbit's Foot Casino by winning The Grand poker tournament. David Cross from Arrested Development, Chris Parnell from Saturday Night Live and Cheryl Hines from Curb Your Enthusiasm are also in the movie and are all hilarious. Cross does a fine job letting the air out of those poker players who are so full of themselves.
There are real poker stars in the movie. My favorite, as my friends will attest to, is Phil Gordon, who is funny in the movie along with his announcing partner Mike Werbe. Werbe is like the Ron Popeil of poker. I think I need to learn the Werbe method for my weekly game. (Those of you who have seen the movie will know what I'm talking about.) I could go on, but I don't want to give anything away. From what I've read, the guys in the movie actually played the poker straight and they didn't know who was going to win or lose, so the movie was intriguing for its comedy and its poker. Who wants to watch a fixed hand like in ROunders? This is the real deal. Imagine if the World Series of Poker was a comedy like Spinal Tap or something and you have The Grand.
I definitely will recommend it to my friends when it hits theaters and I'll definitely go see it with them (and I usually won't see a movie in the theater twice.)
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