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Overall Rating

Awesome: 2.08%
Worth A Look: 20.83%
Average: 2.08%
Pretty Bad41.67%
Total Crap: 33.33%

5 reviews, 18 user ratings

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Even Money
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by Laura Kyle

"So dumb, it'll probably win an Oscar!"
1 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2006 SXSW FILM FESTIVAL: Crash not only got nominated for best pic at the Academy Awards this year, it frickin' won! I learned a hard lesson on March 5, 2006: Academy voters sometimes only care about the social issue in a film, not necessarily artistic merit. King Kong's about a big-ass gorilla, 40-yr-old Virgin's about a 40-yr-old virgin, while Crash's about racism, Munich's about terrorism, Brokeback Mountain's about homosexuality, Good Night and Good Luck's about the McCarthy era... the latter four all got nominated for a best pic Oscar while the first two didn't. So here comes Even Money, trying to cash in on this trend.

Except I'm being incredibly facetious when I say Even Money is Oscar-worthy, because I'll take a pretty steep bet that even the same people who thought Crash was Best Picture material will realize how terrible this "Crash of Gambling," 'Even Money, is.

First of all, Kelsey Grammar wears a large, prosthetic nose. Except he's not impersonating any nonfictional character with a bigger nose than he and the character he IS playing, Detective Brunner, doesn't really require a big nose as far as I can see. And the best part is the name "Kelsey Grammar" is right there in the opening credits and you immediately recognize him when he comes on film, so, like, despite his prosthetic nose, Kelsey Grammar still looks a whole lot like Kelsey Grammar, just with a prosthetic nose. Can you tell the prosthetic nose was DISTRACTING??? And not to mention, completely and entirely unnecessary? Maybe he got a pimple that he couldn't get rid of; I don't know. To say the least, it just made his performance seem pretentious -- I imagine him badgering director Mark Rydell: "I've decided my character has a big, bulky nose." "Um...okay...but you're only a minor supporting character that's painted in the broadest strokes possible." "Plllleeeasssseee, I really want to wear a fake nose!!!!"

I know this gripe seems trivial but in actuality, it perfectly embodies everything that's wrong with the pokerfaced Even Money. The movie takes itself too damn seriously.

Kim Basinger is a mother and wife who's gambling her family's savings away. She always tells husband Ray Liotta that she's writing her next novel (she's a published author) at the local coffee shop. But really she's playing the slot machines and making a new pal in Danny DeVito, a magician and daily casino-crawler. Meanwhile, Forest Whitaker conspires with his hoop-shooting little brother Nick Cannon in an attempt to rig the high school basketball games, so Whitaker can then pay off his debts by alerting the Bad Guys After Him to bet a certain way on the games. One of the Bad Guys After Him is none other than Tim Roth who's got a detective, Kelsey Grammar (and his prosthetic nose), after HIM. <Insert other subplots here.>

So everything just sort of builds and builds until a ridiculously predictable ending with a final voiceover "epilogue" of sorts by Kelsey Grammar that is just unbelievably awful. Moral of the story: gambling addiction fucks up a lot of people's lives but don't think you're off the hook if you don't play blackjack because we've got a gambler of sorts in each and every one of us -- because life is a game of risk. Of course that moral doesn't really translate well at all. Did you READ the plot synopsis? It's so cartoonishly elaborate that it can hardly be taken as a realistic cautionary tale.

Even Money wants to be way too many things: a crime drama, an Important Film, a character study... but it's not successful at any of these genres. The cat and mouse chase between Kelsey Grammar and Tim Roth aspires to be the stuff of great film noir, but it's just so silly and out of place in the film.

There are two actors in particular that deserve adequate commentary. Their names are Nick Cannon and Tim Roth. Nick Cannon can't act. I'm telling you, he can't act. And if Tim Roth were to ham it up anymore than he did, his performance would easily be mistaken for comedy. The rest of the cast remains pretty in tact, especially Whitaker, though there are a few lines of dialogue by Basinger that had me laughing into the next scene. Problem is they were during some of the most profoundly serious moments in the film.

Even Money's Serious Subject Matter is only a front. It's really just a lame wannabe-suspense flick with its themes tackily (and stupidly) tossed into the mix to make it seem like it actually means something.

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originally posted: 03/28/06 06:29:20
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

12/14/08 g Proof that just because you have big names doesn't mean the movie will be good 1 stars
3/21/08 Chuck Jones This is one of the worst movies I've ever seen. How did they get 1 stars
3/21/08 Phil C Great flick ! 4 stars
9/15/07 Monday Morning Big-name cast, penny-ante concept, humungously predictable. 2 stars
8/07/07 vasilis dont dismiss it, its a pretty underestimated film by the looks of it. 4 stars
7/03/07 William Goss Like 'Crash', only without the 'r'. 2 stars
5/30/07 Dan Loncaric B+ Film, good performances, and it was COLLEGE basketball 4 stars
5/21/07 Warren Durso I know these people exist, I read the script and it was solid! 4 stars
5/18/07 Donna Levin whatever redeeming qualities this film may have had was ruined by the insipid ending 1 stars
4/29/07 duke brodsky very interesting, Crash like film for the masses- as poker is now americas sport. i saw it 5 stars
2/19/07 C English Like Crash all the parts came together nicely 4 stars
12/26/06 Matt Dean 3rd Worst Movie I saw last year out of 68 1 stars
4/28/06 Marisa Smith Loved DeVito in this role 4 stars
3/31/06 Elisa G. Kelsey mostly totally cooks. 3 stars
3/29/06 Michael Freidman Don't bash this all you CRASH-haters 4 stars
3/28/06 George Jackson Solid and different. 4 stars
3/24/06 Gregory McIllavan Enjoyed it. Don't your usual, stupid, Hollywood flick. 4 stars
3/23/06 Frank Terrence Solid film in the vein of CRASH 4 stars
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  18-May-2007 (R)
  DVD: 11-Sep-2007



Directed by
  Mark Rydell

Written by
  Robert Tannen

  Kim Basinger
  Danny DeVito
  Kelsey Grammer
  Ray Liotta
  Forest Whitaker
  Carla Gugino

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