Two For The Money

Certainly not two for the show.

Released in 2005, certified UK-15. Reviewed on 04 May 2006 by Craig Eastman
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He may be getting on a bit, but Al Pacino can still sell a film. So much so in fact that whatever he appears in will most definitely get a cinema release, even if that film happens to be Two For The Money; a film so irrevocably formulaic that it makes an episode of Scooby Doo look like an exercise in plot building genius. Matthew McConaughey plays Brandon Lang, a former college football hero who suffers an unfortunate "leg at 90? the wrong way" incident on the field. Robbed of his shot at the big time Brandon instead focuses his uncanny ability to judge the outcome of games into becoming a career tipster, and it's not long before his prodigious talent brings him to the attention of big league New York sports pundit Walter Abrams (Al Pacino). It's one of those "write your own cheque" deals and the God-fearing country bumpkin (complete with mullet) at first has difficulty reconciling his morals with his new boss' recommendation that he use the word "fuck" more often. Still, money talks, even if it has a dirty mouth, and soon Lang is the hottest thing since molten magma.

Abrams quickly has the young upstart in front of both the cameras on his cable ads and also his biggest clients, including the notoriously difficult Novian (Armand Assante). In the tradition of such things this meteoric rise to power upsets former golden boy Jerry (Jeremy Piven, criminally wasted), and as well as going to his head a good dose of confidence also ends up in his crotch which he is soon aiming towards Abrams' MILF missus Toni (Renne Russo). Unsurprisingly the law of averages that Brandon goes to such lengths to defy in his work soon catch up with him, and right at the Rubicon of his newfound potential the biscuit wheels begin to fall off the gravy train.

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If it all sounds incredibly familiar then that would be because anything Two For The Money does some other film has already done better a thousand times before. Let me assure you that there is nothing, repeat nothing in this film that can claim any degree of originality. The "simple kid made millionaire" shtick is so well worn you'd think nobody would even bother, especially when they clearly set out with no intention to break new ground in the first place. Yet Two For The Money ambles on seemingly basking in it's purely derivative ways, totally aware of how pointless it is to begin with. Check the ingredient list: honest lad from humble background offered big money. Lad corrupted by big money. False father figure imparts nefarious "wisdom" and encourages bending of the rules. Lad gets too big for boots. Lad usurps former hotshot causing much friction. Oedipal nonsense by proxy as lad attempts to shag father figure's crumpet. Lad has massive fall from grace. Lad returns to humble beginnings. Roll credits.

It's Jerry Maguire meets Wall Street meets every other sports / big business movie and it reeks of apathy. A clearly talented cast are wasted on Dan Gilroy's cigarette paper-thin script, and director D.J. Caruso should be put against a post and shot for such lacklustre levels of input you'd be forgiven for assuming there wasn't actually a director in the first place. Quite what Matthew, Al and Renne were thinking of is beyond me, unless of course they were aiming specifically to make it big in the straight to video market. Hell, Pacino can't even be bothered with any of his trademark shouting, so you know things are bad. My top tip for wasted talent though has to be Jeremy Piven, a man who until now has unfailingly managed to eke value from even the most limited roles. I can only assume the chance to work with Pacino still makes supporting thesps fall over themselves to blindly say "yes", but if the legend that is Big Al continues down roads as treacherous as these that scenario may well turn on a dime. Assuming you haven't wasted that dime by betting on this lame duck, that is.

I award this movie 2 out of 5 Rubber Ducks

D.J. Caruso
Cast list:
Al Pacino (Walter Abrams)
Matthew McConaughey (Brandon Lang)
Rene Russo (Toni Morrow)