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Overall Rating

Awesome: 15.38%
Worth A Look: 23.08%
Average: 26.92%
Pretty Bad30.77%
Total Crap: 3.85%

1 review, 20 user ratings

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Color of Money, The
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by MP Bartley

"Eddie got slow."
2 stars

Robert Rossen's The Hustler is one of the very best American films of the 1960s. Cool, amoral, brilliantly shot and peppered with brilliant performances, the idea of revisiting the central character 'Fast' Eddie Felson twenty-odd years down the line has some potential. Scorsese and co. completely fail to exploit that potential.

Having turned his back on this career as a pool hustler, Eddie (Paul Newman) has resorted to trying to carve out a living as a booze salesman. He still frequents pool halls however, taking in games and remembering with not a little sadness the days when he was a great player and could take anyone on the tables. His interest is piqued however when he sees Vincent (Tom Cruise) in action. Cocky and naturally talented, Eddie sees a world of potential in Vincent and more importantly, a world of potential money. All he has to do is get Vincent to tone down his theatricality, play it a bit cooler and deal with Vincent's hard-headed and ambitious girlfriend Carmen (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) who also sees what Vincent could achieve with his cue.

The Hustler is one of the cruellest films you're likely to see; no-one comes out a winner, it revolves around a tragic love story and the cold, grasping nature of greed trumps all - in short, it's not really a film about sports. It's about human nature and its fallibility. The Color of Money, however, is little more than a buddy movie and is most definitely a film about sports.

That's not to say that those elements can't be turned into something great, but here the various contributors are mostly at a loss as to what to do with the material. The exception is Newman, slipping back into a role that's as comfortable as an old slipper - but Eddie shouldn't be comfortable, he should be edgy and unpredictable. Newman roughens the edges a little there, his brusque and raspy delivery testament to a man who's lived life on the wrong side of the tracks, but the writing has softened him to the point of parody. In essence, Eddie has turned into the George C. Scott character from The Hustler - making money out of someone much more talented than him, yet the script misses the open goal of that realisation. It's certainly not something Eddie ever realises.

Having said that, Newman still manages to act Cruise off the screen with little effort. With a squeaky voice and ludicrously pointy hairstyle, Cruise's attempts to portray a swaggering, tough, streetwise kid are embarrassing - like having to watch a teenage tantrum in front of your eyes. Maybe Cruise thought this would be his starmaking turn, something instantly iconic like...well, like Eddie was for Newman first time round. But it's not and the wafer-thin and just plain boring character does nothing but demonstrate an actor out of his depth.

So with insipid material, an uninvolving storyline (Eddie takes Vincent and Carmen on a tour across American pool halls, but it rarely feels like a journey, just a sloppy collection of scenes draped together in a lazy and rote fashion), and poor acting, you'd hope Scorsese could give it some dynamism or visual oomph, but instead he turns in what is probably his most visually unremarkable piece of work ever - and when you think how evocative Rossen's film was, it goes beyond disappointment into a crime. There's little atmosphere, no tension to the games of the pool no matter how high the stakes and a drab palette - it looks like something any old hack or journeyman director could have churned out.

Scorsese fails to pay homage with one of American cinema's best looking films, Cruise fails to convince anyone he's the heir to Newman in any sense of the word, and the writing fails to convince you to care about any of this. Only Newman emerges with any credit and even then, the disgruntled air that he carries with him is probably a reaction to how poorly served he is with the material here.

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originally posted: 02/27/12 04:23:04
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User Comments

5/18/12 keith miron Werewolves of london 2 stars
3/09/12 G Scott Anything Newman does is worth a look 4 stars
3/03/12 Rena DiFiore I went to see it just for Newman alone 3 stars
2/07/09 Phil M. Afficiando It's passable, if predictable and formulaic. Loose ends in character development 3 stars
5/12/08 Jack Sommersby Only Newman's performance manages to stick in this bland, impersonal disappointment. 2 stars
3/22/08 Pamela White Newman is spectacular 4 stars
12/27/06 Agent Sands One of the Few Sports Movies I've Gotten Into, If You Want To Call It That. 4 stars
3/19/05 Richard Pryor Paul newman rules!!! 4 stars
10/25/04 UMER cruise stands on his own against newman in this highly entertaining movie 5 stars
10/14/02 Charles Tatum Cruise couldn't crap a decent performance if he ate "Hamlet" first 3 stars
8/07/02 The Man Below average effort from Scorsese. Never thought he would make a formula film. 3 stars
8/23/01 R.W. Welch Nowhere near The Hustler but Newman is still good. 3 stars
7/04/01 TLsmooth Reading Madcap's moronic comment makes me sick. Go watch Speed 2 byatch. 5 stars
6/11/01 Mulie mary elisabeth masterantonio is fine 5 stars
3/28/01 Jesse L a good story. it movie. cruise blows it. 4 stars
3/08/01 Sanja fine, for that kind of movies 3 stars
12/19/00 K-Dawg A great movie with great acting Scorsese is the best director from america.e i 5 stars
3/18/99 Madcap I saw this shit on an overseas flight. Made me reach for the airsick bag 1 stars
3/11/99 little jerry Scorsese just going through the motions.After this and Cape Fear,a reputation can suffer. 3 stars
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  17-Oct-1986 (R)
  DVD: 14-Mar-2000

  N/A (15)
  DVD: 31-Aug-1999

  02-Feb-1987 (M)

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