Friday, 19 April 2013

Rounders Review

I find it odd that I had never seen this movie.  I've always been an Edward Norton fan and I do like Matt Damon.  And it was released in an era where I was going to see just about anything that was released.  But, thank goodness for Netflix because it allows me to dig up films like this on those evenings when Steph is out and there's nothing but reality TV on the networks.

Rounders starts off entertaining enough.  Once you get past the crash poker lesson so you can follow the story, the character development and interaction is witty and quick.  It was almost as if they were trying to capitalize on the success of Swingers with their fast talking, hip "lingo."  It does slightly cross the "reality vs ability for everyone else to understand" line with the terminology used.  I do play poker on occasion so I did understand most of the language used.  For the other, more confusing terms, I was able to get the meaning just from the context.  But if you aren't a poker fan, you may find yourself in need of some sort of poker to English dictionary and quick access to the "pause" button.

The acting performances are very strong all the way through with one exception (which I will get to).  Matt Damon and Norton have a solid chemistry and their timing is impeccable.  They make a very good team that I would like to see more of.  John Turturro also impressed as the "angel on Damon's shoulder" and voice of reason.  Turturro can often come off as a bit simple in his roles but he really stepped up his game as a wizened veteran of the poker scene.  The exception to the acting was John Malkovich.  If movie makers just let Malkovich be himself, he can be a very intense and scary individual.  But as soon as you give him a fake accent, he always comes off as phony and comical (just as he did in Johnny English).  The KGB character did not have to be Russian.  He could have just been a very, very bad American like Con Air's Cyrus the Virus.

I said it starts out entertaining enough.  But when Marvin Hamlisch has his advisory scene with Damon in the bar, the movie comes to a grinding halt that it never really recovers from.  By then, you have enough invested emotionally to care about the outcome.  But you do want it to wrap up quicker than it does.

Because it's likely available for free somewhere for you, I say see it.  But I don't know if it's worth a second viewing unless you really loved it 15 years ago.

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