Saturday, September 15, 2007

Even Money: Grade B


Even Money (2006)

Kim Basinger, Danny DeVito, Kelsey Grammer, Ray Liotta, Tim Roth, Forest Whitaker. Director Mark Rydell

Two short stories about gambling addicts are very loosely woven. Basinger hides her problem from her trusting husband (Liotta), while Whitaker convinces his basketball star brother to shave points so he can pay off his evil bookie (Roth). Predictably, both addicts' lives crumble to dust. Grammer is a Columbo-like detective snooping around for unclear reasons, while DeVito is an ebullient casino rat who befriends Basinger for no particular reason. The story line lacks tension and the characters are predictable and not very interesting. But the acting is a joy. Roth was born to be evil. Whitaker and Basinger show their chops. You can’t ever forget you’re watching Danny DeVito, but you have to admire a guy who gives 110% to every scene. The cinematography is a standout. Overall, the movie is a compassionate message without moralizing: Gambling addiction is tragic. Strong acting and photography raise it above mediocrity.

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