For the Money
It’s no secret that studios are scrambling
to amend declining box office numbers, and marketing agencies
must be burning the midnight oil trying to come up with
ways to fill seats.
need to realize, however, that sometimes sensationalistic
efforts can actually deter viewers from ponying up their
hard earned cash, and Two for the Money is a prime
example. The trailers for the film tease the already tired
scenario of the experienced and aged Al Pacino character,
a father-figure who chooses to mentor a hot young stud who
seeps potential yet doesn’t seem to have the discipline
needed to harness the raw power at his fingertips.
Devil’s Advocate meets sports betting, and
you’re on the right track. That is the impression,
but it is far from the truth. Sure, it can be said that
Walter Abrams (Pacino) handpicks Brandon Lang (Matthey McConaughey)
from relative obscurity and provides him with the knowledge
and the wherewithal to dominate the sports bet advising
industry. Sure, this happens, but there is so much more
to Two for the Money than the simple cliché
Brandon was a stud in college, dominating
the football field and eager to hit the pros, but all of
this was cut short when a gruesome leg injury put him out
of the game for good. Knowing that his options were narrowing
each day spent in recuperation, Brandon takes a job working
for a 1-900 number service, recording dry scripts for incoming
callers in Las Vegas.
Opportunity seemingly knocks when Brandon
is asked to fill in on the football picks line, and the
rest is history. His success at the 1-900 line commands
the attention of ubër sports-betting guru, Walter Abrams,
who woos him to New York to work in his corporation.
key to this formula is establishing just how powerful and
rich the Pacino character is early on, and Two for the
Money does this in spades as Abrams shows Brandon the
ins and outs of the big scary city. Abrams commands such
respect that he can walk into a Mercedes Benz dealer, without
a dime, and get Brandon the pick of the showroom floor on
his word alone.
problem is, Abrams' appearance is simply that. He’s
a working man at heart, and his industry doesn’t run
itself. Abrams is more complex than any of the formulaic
Pacino powerhouses that usually lend themselves to this
sort of film. He has issues, vices and vulnerabilities,
all of which only begin to be hinted at with his heart condition.
Abrams' wife, Tony Morrow (Rene Russo), spends her days
concerned with Abrams’ lifestyle, all of which is
falsely attributed to his weakened heart.
is likeable for the most part, and McConaughey plays the
part well, redeeming himself from the over-the-top arrogance
exuded in Sahara.
When his fall comes about, it refreshingly has nothing to
do with a game of “con versus con” and doesn’t
come down to “who’s conning whom” as the
official site for the film would lead you to believe. In
fact, the film is played fairly straightforward, and the
subject matter is interesting enough to carry the film without
the disease of unnecessary hype, buzz, or blitz.
are interested in the trials and travails of gambling, specifically
sports betting, Two for the Money brings to light
an interesting perspective usually vacant in most gambling
films, which usually place importance of focus on “the
big win” instead of the “big beat.” A
large loss is usually present, but they are usually placed
as a final achievement in the climax of the film, in which
characters are redeemed in the process.
for the Money looks at the way the big burn, the thrill
of the loss, and the eagerness to feel alive drives gamblers
back to the trough in more ways than one can imagine.