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Overall Rating

Awesome: 8.33%
Worth A Look: 29.17%
Pretty Bad: 16.67%
Total Crap: 12.5%

2 reviews, 12 user ratings

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by Scott Weinberg

"I bet you guys like this one. I'll give you a three-laugh spread."
4 stars

We've all been there: three minutes left in the game, your 200 bucks riding on one last defensive stand, a weak catch over the middle leads to a long field goal try, these meaningless garbage-time points the difference between filet mignon or Ramen noodles for a month. Win money or lose, one universal truth is constant: the bookies always win.

A trio of mismatched college buddies discover this truth after losing yet another nasty wager. Why not do what the big boys do? Heck, we can field phone calls and post point spreads! Dust off that old laptop, spread a little buzz, and the cash starts rollin' in! Right?

In theory, sure. At least for a while anyway.

Such is the case in Bookies, a fast-paced and confidently clever little college flick, one that showcases a handful of solid performances and a few stylish segues along the way. Best described as a caper drama with more than a few laughs, Bookies posits a potentially hoary old story into a realistically modern college setting - and damn if the flick just isn't good solid fun for 90 minutes.

The trio figures certainly aren't anything new: there's the cocksure and fast-living party guy (Johnny Galecki, who delivers the best performance in the flick), the devoted-yet-mousy smart guy (the creepy Lukas Haas), and the clear-thinking everyman (Nick Stahl) - the one who repeatedly saves the day and gets to woo the pretty coed down the hall.

(That said coed is played by the chipmunky Rachael Leigh Cook is all you need to know, as her character is defined as not much more than a confident tease with an affinity for foozball.)

So far you've probably got this one all figured out: the aspiring oddsmakers butt heads with a few nasty welchers, their elaborate schemes for collecting payments are nearly uncovered more than once, and wouldn't you know it: the local mafia bookies have recently caught wind of the campus shenanigans. Needless to say, they're none too pleased.

Yet still Bookies delivers. Much of the praise is most likely due Galecki, as he steals nearly every scene within reach - despite the fact that we've seen this character a hundred times before. Stahl's got the lead, and delivers a suitably solid turn, though nothing to bet the farm on.

David Proval and John Diehl are appropriately oily and threatening, while Cook makes doe-eyes in the background. Once or twice, a really solid sequence pops up (such as when an slickly-shot game of foozball is intercut with a surprisingly kinetic chase scene), there's a healthy dosage of laughs along the way, and the finale will leave you with a little something to cheer about.

Second feature from Mark Illsley (after the likable but overrated Happy Texas), Bookies may not pop up anywhere before your local video store, but it's certainly a breezily entertaining enough flick to warrant a look. Given what generally passes for 'college-age comedy' these days, I'd call this one a damn fine entry indeed.

One of those undemanding pieces of entertainment that somehow creep up on you and force you to like them. This one's doubly recommended to those familiar with the joys and sorrows affiliated with sports betting.

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originally posted: 01/26/03 17:26:33
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/02/07 S00t Hi, good morning to all of you...I like it and the background and colors make it easy to re 4 stars
5/27/07 zyrtec vicodin online 2 stars
11/12/05 Larry Dosser lacks tension 3 stars
10/30/04 Corky Much ado about very little 2 stars
9/17/04 Janet R. Too bad Illsley screwed up Bacall's original screenplay 3 stars
4/12/04 Paul Greensatone I liked it a lot. Great story with great actors and very well edited. 5 stars
5/06/03 Ralph R. Clemente pretty humble 2 stars
2/21/03 Elliot Schwartz I didn't like it. Vapid "entertainment" 1 stars
2/04/03 Andrew Goldfarb Didn't care for it. Found it pointless. 1 stars
2/02/03 Tony Ferullo A good topic done VERY poorly 1 stars
1/31/03 Catherine Glow It's really awesome and the actors are really really great 5 stars
1/30/03 Dennis Harvey - Variety Lucas Haas, Nick Stahl and Johnny Galecki star as financially ambitious 2 stars
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  07-Sep-2004 (R)
  DVD: 07-Sep-2004



Directed by
  Mark Illsley

Written by
  Michael Bacall

  Nick Stahl
  Lukas Haas
  Johnny Galecki
  Rachael Leigh Cook
  David Proval
  John Diehl

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