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Overall Rating
3.55

Awesome: 20.55%
Worth A Look42.47%
Average: 17.81%
Pretty Bad: 9.59%
Total Crap: 9.59%

13 reviews, 68 user ratings


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Rounders
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by Paulapalooza

"It's good. But with this cast and director, it should be GREAT."
3 stars

Matt Damon and Ed Norton are your guides to the world of sleazy New York poker hustlers. Atlantic City, prepare for an influx of women.

"Rounders" is on of those "actor's movies." It's got a basic plot and complex characters that allows for plenty of scenery-chewing and tense face-offs. And the cast is, pardon the pun, aces. Oscar guy Matt Damon, the amazing Edward Norton, John Turturro, and John Malkovich and Martin Landau in key supporting roles. And for a guy flick, it's also got babes like Bond bad-girl Famke Janssen and Vanity Fair cover-chick Gretchen Mol. So why the hell didn't I like it more?

Matt Damon is one of my favorite young actors working today. All it takes is watching a couple of his flicks to see that he has chops and confidence. And he's good here---very solid. But not the great I've come to expect from him. Norton's wise-ass Worm sets up the dramatic tension and confict in this sucker as the ex-con friend of Damon's who pulls him back into the world of underground high-stakes poker, and he handles the part admirably. Malkovich gives one of the more eccentric on-screen performances in recent memory, and it's a lot of fun, but his character is basically just a scumbag, and he rarely generates the sense of menace caled for by this story. Turturro, Landau, and Janssen are all fine, but they can give these performances in their sleep. Mol is kewpie-dol cute and shows promise, but her inexperience is obvious. Give her time, though.

So back to the question of why I didn't like "Rounders" more. First of all, the film is saddled with a constant voice-over narration, not a technique I'm particullarly fond of. It smacks of easy exposition and lets a filmaker tell an audience a lot of information without ever SHOWING what makes the characters and story tick. And secondly, though I'm a John Dahl fan, his pacing seems off. I rarely compain about how long a movie runs, but we're treated to a lot of only semi-meaningful card games when boiling the action down to a few would serve the plot much better, and generate more tension for the final and well-staged yet obvious finale.

I struggled with rating this one. I REALLY wanted to like it more, but too many aspects became paint-by-numbers set-ups. Regardless, the compulsion these characters have to live this dangerous lifestye is believable (my favorite scene has Damon stumble onto a game his law professor is sitting in on, and the itch he exhibits to jump in head first is palpable), and maybe that's the whole point.

Note: Real poker players look much more like Malkovich's Teddy KGB than Matt Damon.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=66&reviewer=21
originally posted: 09/14/98 22:59:47
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User Comments

11/09/10 Ken Jacobi Whoever wrote negative comments is crazy. 1 of the Best films ever and VERY real characters 5 stars
3/02/09 KingNeutron Must-see for any poker fan - Malkovich steals the show 4 stars
9/26/08 Timothy Kirkland "If you can't spot the sucker at the first half hour than you are the sucker" Enough said. 5 stars
1/19/07 MARGARET PESKOFF I THOUGHT THIS MOVIE TO BE VERY INSIGHTFUL INTO THE WORLD OF GAMBLING 5 stars
9/09/06 Michele not the best not the worst 3 stars
8/04/06 ruth ammelia it's a great film i've ever seen 4 stars
5/06/06 dionwr Entertaining but silly film 2 stars
5/02/06 Ryan_A Beat the poker craze by about five years. Slick movie. 4 stars
5/02/06 William Goss Haven't seen it. 3 stars
5/02/06 David Cornelius all in 5 stars
5/02/06 HBS-SH i work for chewlie's gum 4 stars
5/02/06 Monday Morning Very tight, slick, entertaining flick. Malkovich's Russian accent is cartoonish, tho'. 4 stars
2/17/06 tatum Good flick, despite Norton's patented weasely performance 4 stars
1/06/06 Phil M. Aficionado I agree with Guide2Film's review. Almost awesome; lots of insight into gambling. Slick. 4 stars
8/17/05 ES Sweet film, good characters, right mixture of suspense and style 4 stars
7/13/05 nixon obviously the reviewers have never played poker before in their pathetic lives 5 stars
6/13/05 Agent Sands Best card game movie I can think of. 5 stars
5/11/05 Simon As good as can be a poker movie. 5 stars
10/22/04 John so well shot and great acting...much better than expected 4 stars
6/23/04 Phil Ivey If you don't believe people make money playing poker, you might not like it. 5 stars
6/21/04 Dick Logan Good cast, great film. Malkovich is the bomb in this!!!! 5 stars
2/23/04 Courtney Rounders is one of the best movies out there! It never gets old. 5 stars
12/03/03 Kyle GAG! Might possibly appeal to poker players. Abysmal for everyone else. 1 stars
12/02/03 George Tucker This film is awesome!!!!!!! If you like playing cards watch this movie!!! 5 stars
10/12/03 Leo McDermott So far, everyone who reviewed this movie must NOT play poker. Poker is a FINE career! 5 stars
9/26/03 Darryl I only made it about halfway through. BORING! 1 stars
6/05/03 Picky Critic Good acting. If you want a movie about gambling, this is a good choice 4 stars
5/02/03 Bri Travis I think it is a kick ass movie!!! 4 stars
4/12/03 Jack Sommersby You've been down this tired road soooooo many times before... 2 stars
3/14/03 R.W. Welch Rather intriguing pic, somewhat undermined by predictable finale. 3 stars
7/29/02 Claire This is as almost as gratifiyng as Vegas, but without the drunken imprompu wedding... 4 stars
7/09/02 erick i don't know know shit bout poker, and i loved this movie, great performances, ect. 5 stars
5/14/02 jason green top ten of all time here.... 5 stars
2/26/02 IP Freely Has some of the best lines, this movie kicks ass, I play a lot so I guess I am biased 5 stars
1/15/02 Chris Delehanty Great Movie 5 stars
1/02/02 Katre It has Edward Norton,so it is worth a watch. 3 stars
9/09/01 Butterbean People who don't play cards (like me) would be bored with some parts of this movie. 3 stars
7/10/01 Ted Donnelly I thought Jon Malcovich's portrayal of "Teddy KGB" was outstanding. 5 stars
3/28/01 Jesse L Best gambling movie made...if you like poker you'll love it 5 stars
5/03/00 Matt Sabian Mol is hot, Damon good, but ending should've been together 4 stars
3/13/00 Trina Barnard I've seen it more than once! 5 stars
2/19/00 Neil Austin Where did Malko go and learn his accent??? 2 stars
10/30/99 Bozo mee too zenabll, but norton makes even shite like this better 2 stars
8/10/99 adjovi worth seeing if only for Norton's effortless scene stealing performance. 4 stars
7/27/99 emperor Norton/Damon good pair. 4 stars
7/15/99 GothamDK Don't really dig Damon, but I love hold'em poker. Good flick. 4 stars
2/20/99 Piz The story drains after a while, same-o same-o, but its worth a look see. 4 stars
2/19/99 Bruce Hedge Great verisimilitude,except the aftermath of the cop beating was a bit unbelievable. 4 stars
2/19/99 Derek Great Damon-Norton rapport. Still, mainly for those versed in poker. 4 stars
2/11/99 Mr Film Predictable, but extremely entertaining and very well done.. Damon is the man... 5 stars
10/29/98 zenball i don't care if he is the IT boy of Hollywood, I HATE MATT DAMON 2 stars
10/17/98 Mr Showbiz Pulse-jacking crash course in the rites, risks, and honor system behind illegal poker-for-g 5 stars
10/13/98 jym marty from st louis is a tool---why didnt it have character development??? 5 stars
10/13/98 tom sweet flick--perfect ending, not to happy or sad--norton /damon--the best in one film 5 stars
10/04/98 Jay Stein They took The Gambler and put it in a blender with Good Will Hunting. Fuggit! 2 stars
10/02/98 Specter A good movie, but pointless on the whole. 3 stars
9/29/98 Marty in St.Louis Totally predictable, no character development, go rent the Hustler. 2 stars
9/26/98 Armageddon Pretty good flick.. Matt Damon is great again, and supporting actors are cool. 4 stars
9/15/98 Gamma Terrific performances from all involved. Malkovich is awesome, as always. 4 stars
9/15/98 Negative Creep Norton's great though his disapearance with 40 mins left to go leaves the film feeling flat 3 stars
9/15/98 jack gordon Good, but Malkovich's fake Russian accent has to go. 4 stars
9/15/98 Badass A strong poker face of actors covers up a shitty hand of a script 4 stars
9/14/98 Chip Taylor Who the hell knows 3 stars
9/14/98 Johny Good enough, not spectacular or anything though 4 stars
9/14/98 Jon The acting was great; the plot wasn't----Damon and Malkovich were amazing. 4 stars
9/13/98 Daniel Eskin John Turturro saved this from a sucks all ass! The acting and story were both horrid. 2 stars
9/13/98 Kimberly Finally, a film that understands! Poker is a life...and this is THE movie! 5 stars
8/29/98 Mister Whoopee Norton is better than Hoffman in Drugstore Cowboy. Damon's fine, but the movie is no GWH. 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  11-Sep-1998 (R)
  DVD: 07-Sep-2004

UK
  N/A

Australia
  11-Feb-1999 (MA)




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