This review has been written by Nik, who can usually be found here...
I didn't expect much from TWO FOR THE MONEY, and by matter of coincidence, I didn't get much either. It's hard to describe this film, because it doesn't easily fit into any one genre - not due to its depth or variety - but rather its chronic failure to set out its stall and nail its colours to the mast.
The story follows the life of Brandon Lang (aka Matthew McConaughey), who due to a career-ending injury as a professional footballer, ends up becoming a small time 1-900 number sports pundit. As his punditry proves successful, he is recruited by Walter Abrams (Al Pacino) to work in the big time, New York, high pressure, fast talking, amoral, slick and stylised world of big money gambling. Pacino's character is given just enough depth for his natural talent to shine through - and plenty of witty and cutting one-liners besides to keep the audience amused. But that's really where my praise has to end.
The rest of the characters were 2-dimensional at best - from Abrams doting wife (Rene Russo) - to the small town country-boy who lets fame go to his head (McConaughey) - to the rest of the mediocre cast who no sooner do they chip in their lines than they are instantly forgotten. Given that the film relies almost entirely on one line gags and remarks to entertain, it is sadly poorly written towards the end, loosing the audiences interest quickly as it starts to rely on its vapid plot in the second half of the film. The moral messages contained within this effort are trite, hollow, obvious and condescendingly delivered - and the ending is so sugary that your pancreas will wish you'd never have been born, or that you'd seen Lady Vengeance instead.
But the main problem with this film, as I alluded to earlier, is its lack of defined genre. Maybe it was mis-sold to me - I was expecting a violent gansta epic about a farm-boy getting in over his head in a world of gambling, pr*stitutes and organised crime - but while the film threatened to turn nasty, it was all foreplay and no org*sm. The closest we got was our hero getting held down and given an impromptu golden shower by one of his clients - hardly Japanese ultra-violence. But the film wasn't particularly funny either, it certainly wasn't a thriller in that it's wasn't thrilling, it weren't a sports movie as the opening titles threatened, the romance was contrived and it wasn't very dramatic. So if it's not a drama, not a RomCom, not a thriller, and not a gangster movie - then what the f*ck is it?
The answer is - not particularly good. This film promised little, and delivered in proportion. I'm not trying to pan it - it more than capably passed two hours I might otherwise have been touching myself or other people - and it's certainly not a "SPHERE" or an "ANALYSE THAT" where the only highlight was brevity. Some of the one-liners alone justified the entrance fee - or would have justified it had I not been mugged for £12.50 by the Leicester Square Vue. It's just that this film wasn't very good. It had very little to it.
It failed totally as a morality play - it had too little sex and violence to deliver any thrills and spills - it was only funny in parts - and the ending was so happy and clappy that I left the cinema wanting to kick the shit out of a helpless little puppy just to redress the balance of the universe. I also left the cinema with the awful feeling that had I been walking out 40 minutes earlier, I'd have been in a better mood, and been more fulfilled in general. I already know that happiness can't be bought, and that love and family should be put before money, I don't need to be force fed it by some asshole in LA who now has £12.50 more of the latter and has probably experienced neither of the former.
There's plenty on at cinema's these days, and this addition to the playlists is mediocre at best. Go see LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN if you want a cool gangster movie - or KIDULTHOOD is you want something "street" - or LADY VENGEANCE if you like asian movies about child cruelty. Or, if it's a really rainy day, you need to get somewhere warm to escape the elements, the price is low and there's nothing else on - go see TWO FOR THE MONEY. I cannot seriously recommend it in any other circumstances.
TWO FOR THE MONEY is currently available on Region 1 DVD. It is also on cinematic release in the UK and hits Germany on April 13th 2006.
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