A Bad Bet 

The Wasted Potential of Two for the Money

Two for the Money
dir. Caruso
Opens Fri Oct 7
Various Theaters

The one-two combination of sports and gambling should have been a lock for gripping cinematic excitement: Both have more rollicking highs and lows than a runaway rollercoaster. But instead, Two For The Money—which is billed as a high-octane combination of football, high-stakes gambling and, yes, the power coupling of Al Pacino and Matthew McConaughey—completely flatlines.

Sure, the story's setup sounds promising: Brandon Lang (McConaughey) is a star college quarterback who snaps his leg in a heroic dash for a game-winning touchdown. Instead of heading off to the NFL, Lang ends up as a loser has-been, answering phones and peddling betting tips on a 1-900-number.

But when Lang consistently picks winners, he's plucked from obscurity by Walter Abrams (Pacino), the high-rolling owner of a New York brokerage house. Abrams plans to build a gambling empire around Lang's uncanny knack for picking winners, but tensions begin to mount with the prodigy struggles with his simpleton past and values.

The story meanders along this plot until about halfway through the film, at which point gambling and football are moved from the centerpiece of the story to make way for—ready?—a chick flick! Instead of testosterone-fueled egotism and head-banging, we suddenly join Lang, Abrams, and his wife (an unbearable Rene Russo) for long candlelit dinners, strolls through New York streets, and tireless talks about the dynamics of their relationships. Are you kidding me? The end result's a mess: Two for the Money is a film that will disappoint the guys because it is exactly one-half of a lame sports film, and simultaneously, it'll disappoint the touchy-feelies, since it's a halfassed relationship story. When it comes to risks like these, everybody loses.

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