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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 Ryan Arthur

"I've never seen $30,000, much less lost it all at once."
4 stars

Deal.

I've never been a big poker player. It's just not in me, aside from the occasional Saturday night nickel-ante stuff. I can play blitz, I can play poker, I can win every so often at bullshit. But I could never play professionally, or even play against people who are even remotely good. I'd get my ass kicked.

That said, Rounders is a movie that has the potential to turn off a good portion of it's audience. How many people really want to see a movie about card playing? How many people wanted to see a movie about pool? If it's a good story, then the fact that it's about cards isn't going to bother.

Rounders *almost* is.

Mike (Matt Damon), a law student, used to be one of the sharpest card players around. He was one of the best, spotting suckers from a mile away and taking them for all they're worth, and doing it all with his abilities. He didn't cheat; he didn't need to. But he got burned. He lost $30,000 to Teddy KGB (John Malkovich) in a really tough underground game, and swore off the game completely. Nine months later, Mike's best friend Worm (Edward Norton) gets out of prison. Like Mike, Worm's a card player. But unlike Mike, he's dirty, bottom dealing and taking money from everyone, including Mike. Worm gets in over his head, and Mike is forced back into playing (and ultimately scamming) to help Worm pay off a debt.

Rounders really does try to do for card playing what The Hustler and The Color Of Money did for pool, and it almost works. But the story fails on a few levels. Mike knows, just like everyone around him, that Worm's poison for his reputation and a bad friend to boot. Yet he keeps him around, keeps helping him out. Why? Is the bond of friendship so strong that the fact that Mike loses his girlfriend (Gretchen Mol), falls behind in his studies, and gets his ass kicked for being in a scam all worth it just so Worm can screw him over again? You don't really question the friendship, you question that it's lasted this long. The story also is hampered by an inevitable final showdown between Mike and KGB over Worm's debt (which Mike has vouched for). They play the game that they played when Mike lost his $30,000, only this time, he knows how to beat Teddy. And lo and behold, he does. Shocking. The movie loses a bit of steam when Worm disappears (he's on the run so he won't have to pay his debt or get killed) and Mike is forced to scrounge up some cash to win more to pay off the debt. He ends up borrowing $10,000 from a professor (Martin Landau) to play against Teddy. Being that Mike's a good kid, the prof gives it to him. It's the little things in the movie (like this) that don't really add up or that seem too obvious that really hurt the film.

I will say that the performances here are fairly strong. Damon holds his own against Norton in the acting department, and that's no easy task. Damon's not just a pretty boy, and I don't think Good Will Hunting was a fluke. But he's not Will Hunting here, and that's a good thing. Norton continues a streak of fine performances; I can't wait to see him in a film like American History X. Among the supporting cast, Malkovich is fine (the accent's gotta go), as is Landau, but Famke Janssen is wasted and Gretchen Mol is merely a pretty face, and can't really contend with the heavyweights that she's surrounded by.

Rounders, considering the talent involved, both in front of and behind the camera, should be a better film. Should be a great film. But the story fails it. The performances, particularly the two leads, do make it worthwhile.

At least Matt didn't cry in this movie.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=66&reviewer=7
originally posted: 09/19/98 00:07:47
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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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