Dir. D.J. Caruso, US, 2005, 122mins
Cast: Al Pacino, Matthew McConaughey, Rene Russo, Armand Assante
Review by Lorna Allen
The legendary Al Pacino, the sexy Matthew McConaughey both kitted out in designer suits and talking it up in the fast paced world of high-roller gambling! Cool – right? Definitely two for your money? WRONG.
Where did it all go wrong? The seventies brought us the fresh faced streetwise Bronx kid in classics like The Godfather, Dog Day Afternoon, Cruisin, Serpico, Scarface … I could go on (but there is no need it’s AL PACINO – you all know the resume) – until I hit films like Gigli, S1mOne and then my point starts to disintegrate. What is going on? A case of the Robert De Niro's perhaps? Or do directors just not want to take a chance on one of the greatest and most bankable names in cinema? Hardly. I have a theory that Mr. Pacino must have sold his soul to some big wig in tinsel town.
This time Al plays a gruff, raspy voiced wise cracking chancer with the gift for the grab and ability to cause turmoil wherever he goes who becomes surrogate father figure and mentor to hot young thing Matthew McConaughey - think of his roles in Devil’s Advocate, The Recruit, Scent of A Woman, Donnie Brasco and you are pretty much there.
Now take Matt – he plays – wait for it – a charming rough round the edges, uncultured cutie who is a hit with the ladies and has a heart of gold - think EdTV, How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days.
I have another theory, if you’re interested, that this film was sewn together using outtakes on the cutting room floor from the two actor’s previous ventures.
Two For the Money is so banal, unoriginal and uninspiring it actually pains me to delve into details of the film and relive the memory of watching it.
Brandon Lang (McConaughey) was on his way to the big-time when a football injury in collage dashed his dreams of sporting stardom. Since then he has idled his life way in a smokey Las Vegas backroom providing betting tips on a phone line although sensibly refusing to place any wagers himself until he is discovered by bolshy Walter Abrams (Pacino) a man with severe health problems, a trust issue or two an ‘an aversion to consistency’ (ironic when we note Pacino’s consistent over acting) he romances him away from the low life to the big apple and reinvents the handsome young buck (whose penchant for wearing wife beaters and getting his shirt off regularly is one of the films few saving graces – but it’s not nearly enough) in the form of John Anthony complete with pitch perfect sales patter and Gordon Gecko slick back hair. A standard rise and fall arc kicks in. They hit it big, spend loads of money then the cracks in the men’s relationship start to show, the winning streak starts to fade and it’s a downward spiral from there. The point of the film is gambling = bad. Duh! The fact is the movie doesn’t make these guys look any worse or uncompromising than your average Fox anchorman – in fact they are a little less sinister possessing a certain amount of humour and charm and peddling less dangerous and sinister ideas. Oh yeah – there is also a protégé father/son dynamic thread going on in here too if you can be bothered to pay it much heed – if not see Devil’s Advocate , Scent of A Woman, The Recruit ... you get the point.
Discuss this film here