Two for the Money
I find that Brandon Lang (Mathew McConaughey) is a man with a very varied life. As a child, he appeased his Father by becoming a Football player. As a teenager, he damaged his leg because he became a Football player As an adult, he used his knowledge of Football to become a telephone sports pundit. And due to his success in this field, he gets noticed by sports betting impresario, Walter Abrams (Al Pacino), and is hired by him to become his new ‘Football handicapper’.
Moreover, when Walter and his wife, Toni (Rene Russo), meet Brandon for the first time, they take an instant liking to him too. As they gives him a new apartment to live in, a new name (John Anthony) to go by, plus they quickly boost him up the ranks, and give him a new job involving a more one of one interaction with his ‘clients’.
Please note, not only does Brandon have to now predict the outcome of a Football game, but he also has to speak to clients on the phone and co-host Walter’s gambling show, ‘The Sports Adviser’, as well.
Now at first, all of this is just magical for Brandon / Andrew. His predictions are spot on - his hosting skills are exemplary - and he does so well with his clients, that he even manages to bag a major gambler, C.M. Novian (Amand Assante).
However, what goes up, must come down, right? And over time, the worm turns, and Brandon, Walter, and Toni, all find themselves in a bit of a pickle.
Well, Brandon’s run of bad luck causes a lot of friction for all involved. Causing Walters empire to start to crumble and his mood to change. Toni's emotions to begin to divide between Walter and Brandon. And Brandon does not know how to turn his luck around, especially when he is leaned on by a couple of gruff clients.
Still, I suppose that is why what next transpires all results on a toss of a coin. As partnership’s drift – emotions are fraught – Football comes into play – and resolutions are hard to come by.
OK, at first, I was not that keen on watching 'Two for the Money'. I just thought in essence, that this was a film with a rather predictable structure. Well, lets face it, it is a rise and fall of a business venture between two men – like the film ‘Wall Street’ – except that this time the business is all to do with gambling.
However, what redeemed this film for me, from just becoming another run of the mill ‘journey movie’, isn't anything to with the pretext, isn't anything to do with the story arc, and isn't anything to do with the polished direction either. In my own personal opinion, it is all to do with the underlining message that this film is trying to project – why do people gamble in the first place?
Now there is a scene in this film that illustrates this just perfectly. It is the one where Al Pacino’s character takes Matthew McConaughey’s character to a gamblers self-help group. Here, have a look at this...
[ Sorry - Video has been deleted by YouTube ]
You see what Al has done in that rather mannered way of his? He's gone straight to the source of the problem, and state it out loud and without a care in the world. Granted, at the end of the scene, comes the... thump, thump, ting... of the gag-line. Still, his opening remarks are very true on a subconscious level, elevating this paint it by numbers film, onto a completely different level.
Well, just think about it for a moment – why does a gambler continue to gamble? Just for the money? To win him or her self out of hardship? Is it just genetic? Or is it like what Al says ‘because they are lemons’? Anyway, whatever the true answer may be, I found that it was very pertinent that this question has been posed in the first place.
As for the rest of ‘Two for the Money’ on the other hand? Hmm? I did find it kind of hit or miss really. I did love some of Al’s mad ramblings, and the way that he, Rene, and Mathew interacted with each other. Whilst, on the other hand, I did find some of the gambling ‘things’ a bit confusing at times, and the whole ‘love triangle scenario’ somewhat contrived – seemingly wedged in at the end of the film as if to elevate the conclusion.
Overall, though, this film is a really nice film to watch. As Al and Rene are great in it – Mathew does his best to hold his own – and the complete package does have a degree of validity in the subtext presented, aided by the quality on display.
So if you are a fan of such film as 'Wall Street' or 'Coach Carter, or alternately are a fan of either Al, Rene, or Mathews – what have you got to loose, huh? Give it a punt.
THE RATING: B