Friday, 25 April 2008

Lucky You

Hollywood has been very good to the World Series of Poker (WSOP from now on). When Rounders came out back in 1998, the WSOP was still very much a fringe interest amongst the ESPN crowd. It actually continued to struggle for a while until 2003. Rounders, by then, had a cult following of poker wannabes and the WSOP had created the "hole cam" the prior year to make for better viewing for TV audiences. Oh, and an amateur with the unlikely handle of Chris Moneymaker wound up winning the Main Event.

The number of participants in the $10,000 buy-in Main Event went from 839 in 2003 to a whopping 8,773 in 2006. For a bunch of people I know, ESPN's coverage and Rounders had a lot to do with the added success. Too bad the WSOP hasn't been nearly as nice to Hollywood.

Lucky You has a lot of things going for it. It's directed and co-written by an award winning filmmaker in Curtis Hanson. It has an interesting cast with Eric Bana, Robert Duvall and Drew Barrymore. It has a ton of cameos by real poker professionals and a decent respect to the game.

What it doesn't have is an interesting story. The plot involves a young poker hotshot who is trying to raise capital for a buy-in to the Main Event at the 2003 WSOP. Along the way he has to deal with his daddy issues - his father is a 2-time champ at the Main Event - his own hubris and his failed attempts at a love life. All very Greek tragedy-ish, if you ask me.

It was just plain boring. And the message boards on the Internet are filled with poker players shouting their disdain at the film for it's portrayal of the game itself. I don't really care about that, since I don't know that much to begin with. I just want a movie that's exciting and fun filled with characters that I care about. Like Rounders.

Finally, is there a less engaging lead actor out there besides Eric Bana? I thought this guy was gonna be the shit after his big break-thru performance in Chopper. But it's been boring role after boring role after boring role for this guy since Hulk. He's better than a half-bottle of NyQuil for a good night's sleep. He needs to harden the fuck up!

Saturday, 19 April 2008


"Based on the video game"

That phrase is just about the most surefire way to know that a movie is gonna be crap. "Directed by Uwe Boll" is another phrase that comes to mind. Strange that the two tag lines usually accompany the same film. Not this one. Only the former applies, not the latter. That doesn't mean it's not gonna be bad...just not Uwe Boll bad. I mean there is no online petition to stop the director of this film, Xavier Gens, from ever working again. Let's give him a few more tries before we put him in Boll's category.

I generally enjoy Timothy Olyphant's work in film. Well, not really. But I do love saying his name aloud. Olyphant. Try it with me. OH-LEE-FAHNT. Fun, right? He replaced Vin Diesel as the titular hitman from the time that the film was first announced. While Olyphant usually can act circles around him, it may have upped the camp value if Vinsanity was around. Too bad. Now we are stuck with an incredibly boring turn by a guy who is usually known for his manic portrayals of borderline psychotics. Here he gets to work the slow burn...not his best feature.

The silliest aspect of the film, and the video game series I guess, is the appearance of all the hitmen who work for the mysterious multi-national organization that controls the world from behind the scenes. Black suits, red ties, bald heads with a bar code tattooed at the base of the skull. You would think that Interpol or airport security would be able to spot these guys a mile away. Or maybe they should wear hats. I spent a lot of time thinking about that while watching this drek. Maybe they should wear hats.

There are all kinds of plot problems with the film, but you probably already knew that because it is "based on the video game" so why bother. It's supposed to be an hour and a half of people getting shot and shit getting blown up. In that sense, it could be deemed successful. In every other sense it can be deemed to be a steaming pile of dog shit.

I did learn one thing from the film, though. Apparently, the best way to stop a hot Ukrainian whore from seducing you is to jab her in the carotid artery with a hypodermic needle filled with some kind of drug or another. I've had some experience with this, and its not as easy as it might seem to stop those bitches. Trust me.