"Don’t Bet On This One"
Based on a true story, TWO FOR THE MONEY follows Brandon Lang (played by Matthew McConaughey), a former college football star who goes to work for a high-profile sports gambling bookie, Walter Abrams (played by Al Pacino).
After a career ending injury steals any hope that Brandon has of becoming a professional football player, he finds himself working for a small, Vegas 900 phoneline company and making the picks-of-the-week for college football gamblers. His knowledge of the teams and his correct-pick-percentages grab the attention of big-time sports bookie, Walter Abrams. Abrams offers Brandon a lucrative career as one of his bookies in New York City. Soon Brandon Lang, the small-town, southern boy with charm, modesty and virtue, is transformed into John Anthony, the big-city, wheelin-dealin’ talk-of-the-town cutthroat playboy who’s next big high comes from the next big game.
As Brandon’s alter-ego, John Anthony, continues his lucky picking streak, the payoffs get higher but so do the stakes. Pretty soon, millions of dollars of other people’s money are riding on each decision John Anthony makes. Then, in true Hollywood-formula fashion, the lucky streak runs out. With his world falling apart, personal threats coming in from big players and Walter pushing him to the brink, John Anthony must either find the edge he lost or lose it all.
TWO FOR THE MONEY is well-made, the performers give their all, and the director finds some nice moments to reveal how compulsive living can lead to self-destruction. Matthew McConaughey commits 110% to the Jekyll-Hyde-like transformation from Brandon Lang to John Anthony, and his southern charm and magnetic personality make him easy to watch. Al Pacino does his usual “chewing up the scenery” as Walter Abrams, a man driven to the edge by his compulsions. Even though Pacino is always Pacino, he makes some nice character choices that portray the depth of Walter’s addictions. Rene Russo does a wonderful job as Walter’s wife who does all she can to keep Walter from falling off the edge on which he is so precariously perched.
Even though the movie itself is a complete journey that shows the pitfalls, dangers and addictions of gambling, the audience must, regrettably, endure the journey. With strong addictive behavior (in all its grossness) depicted, the movie overwhelms viewers with its look at the “dark side.” Add to that the sexuality, fornication, nudity, prostitution, human defecation, and overly abundant foul language, the audience has a nice mixture of “the worst humankind has to offer.” However, the movie does give moviegoers a look all of the characters’ individual redemptions. With very few pros and a lot of cons, TWO FOR THE MONEY is definitely not one to bet on.
(HH, B, C, AbAb, LLL, V, SS, NN, AA, DD, MM) Strong humanist, materialistic worldview with moral premise about the pitfalls of gambling, living on the edge and hedonistic materialism, with some light Christian elements of redemption, but strong negative discussion of God and religion including a phrase that at a party God “shows up with hookers and Viagra;” 84 obscenities (mostly “f” words) and four profanities; sports action depicted and one scene of a man’s leg grotesquely broken in a football game, plus man gets pulled off his bike, punched, threatened at gun-point and urinated on by some gangster-type characters; depicted fornication, candid dialogue of sexuality and genitalia, prostitution depicted and implied, passionate kissing between married and unmarried couples, and one adulterous kiss; upper female nudity, naturalistic upper male nudity while working out and man in bath towel; alcohol use throughout the film, drunkenness implied and depicted; compulsive cigarette smoking and reference to Viagra; and very strong miscellaneous immorality with the entire movie based around gambling and sports-betting, and compulsive behavior is a major theme, although it is not extolled or glorified, but rather shown to be people’s downfall.
TWO FOR THE MONEY follows Brandon Lang (Matthew McConaughey), a former college football star who goes to work for a high-profile sports-gambling bookie, Walter Abrams (Al Pacino). Soon, Walter transforms the small-town Brandon into the big-city John Anthony, his gambling protégé. Brandon’s alter-ego continues his lucky streak. The payoffs get higher, but so do the stakes. Then John’s streak runs out, with millions of dollars of other people’s money riding on every decision. With his world collapsing, personal threats from big players and Walter pushing him to the brink, John Anthony must find the edge he lost or lose it all.
Well made and acted, TWO FOR THE MONEY is a complete journey that shows the pitfalls, dangers and addictions of gambling. Regrettably, the audience must endure the journey. With strong addictive behavior shown, the movie overwhelms you with its look at the “dark side.” Add to that the sexuality, fornication, nudity, prostitution, human defecation, and overly abundant foul language, the audience has a nice mixture of “the worst humankind has to offer.” With very few pros and a lot of cons, TWO FOR THE MONEY is definitely not one to bet on.