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D.J. Caruso
Al Pacino, Matthew McConaughey, Rene Russo, Armand Assante, Jeremy Piven, Jaime King, Kevin Chapman, Ralph Garman, Gedde Watanabe
Writing Credits:
Dan Gilroy

Academy Award winner Al Pacino and Matthew McConaughey star in this adrenaline-charged thriller about the sexy, high-stakes world of sports betting, where fortunes can be made and lost with a flip of a coin.

When Brandon Lang (McConaughey) becomes the protege of sports gambling's power player, Walter Abrams (Pacino), he swiftly becomes the golden boy of the high-rolling world for consistently picking football winners. Now, with millions on the line, he finds himself in a deadly game of con-versus-con with his new mentor. Also starring Renee Russo and Jeremy Piven (HBOs Entourage), Two For The Money sizzles with intense, non-stop thrills.

Box Office:
$20 million.
Opening Weekend
$8.703 million on 2391 screens.
Domestic Gross
$22.862 million.

Rated R

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1

Runtime: 123 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 1/17/2006

Disc One
• Audio Commentary with Director DJ Caruso and Writer Dan Gilroy
• ďThe Making of Two for the MoneyĒ
• ďInsider Interview: The Real BrandonĒ
• Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
• Trailer
• TV Spots


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Two For The Money (2005)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 20, 2006)

Al Pacino must get down on his knees and thank God everyday that Robert De Niro has embraced so many terrible projects in recent years. Because De Niro now appears almost exclusively in crap, this takes the heat off of Pacino, as he otherwise would likely be viewed as the biggest sell-out of his acting generation.

Iíll give Pacino one thing: at least most of his crummy movies had the potential to be good. De Niro selects junk that was predestined to stink, while Pacino goes for flicks with a real upside that simply never achieve their goals.

Case in point: 2005ís dreadful Two for the Money. This movie launches with flashbacks that show the sports-obsessed life of Brandon Lang (Matthew McConaughey). We see that he tried to excel as a child to please his father but this didnít work, as his pop left his family anyway. We then view Brandonís attempts to make it big as a quarterback. He succeeded until he got the Joe Theismann treatment at the end of a bowl game.

Brandon remains convinced he can still play, though six years of failed try-outs tells us otherwise. The movie finds him stuck in a dead-end job where he records messages for 900-numbers. He gets asked to fill in for a football gambling expert and discovers his true talent as a betting prognosticator.

This attracts the attention of big-time gambling advisor Walter Abrams (Al Pacino). Abrams recruits Brandon to work for him and help them pick games. Brandon moves to New York and starts to live the highlight with flamboyant Walter. He gives Brandon his own 900 line, renames him as ďJohn AnthonyĒ and trains him how to sell his picks. The movie follows the ways Walter reshapes Brandon in his own image and various issues that crop up along the way.

I knew that I was in for a rough time within the first three minutes of Money. The movie makes it absurdly clear that Brandon needs a daddy, so we know that Walter will take that position with him. The movie telegraphs virtually every theme and concept well before it happens and never manages to form into anything even vaguely believable or natural.

Itís all foreshadowing with no payoff in the end. Yes, Walter does turn into a father figure, but this plays little real role in the proceedings. In addition, the story sets up Walterís health concerns and other areas that go nowhere. The film approaches an idea but doesnít follow through and deliver anything.

Money could have gone two ways. It could have provided a loose, lively look at professional gambling, or it could have presented a piercing portrayal of the related pitfalls. Money tries to go after both sides of that coin but fails miserably to satisfy in either direction.

Occasionally Money flirts with parody. We see some vaguely amusing views of the obnoxious way that Walter and the others tout their picks, and the movie seems to want to deliver more of that kind of comedy. It doesnít dig into this side of things with much gusto, though, and it leaves the comedic elements alone most of the time.

Unfortunately, the flickís attempts to offer a serious drama fare even worse. It hints at all the problems associated with gambling but flits past them rapidly. One minute we might get a heartfelt scene of pain related to betting addiction, while the next opts for gloss and glitter. The movie wants to remind us of the negatives but it prefers to party and have fun.

Of course, it also likes to pour on melodrama with its utterly unconvincing characters. The participants boast virtually no consistency. They display radically conflicting thoughts and behaviors from scene to scene and never coalesce into believable personalities. It feels like the writer took vague characteristics and mixed them together with no rhyme or reason.

That means we end up with these confusing roles and a ridiculously awkward narrative. I canít call the story rambling and meandering because those terms compliment it too much. Little makes sense in this flick.

Add to that a truly dopey attempt to create a climactic conclusion and Two for the Money ends up as a total dog. Boring, stupid and nonsensical, this film wastes a pretty decent cast and a potentially entertaining plot.

The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B-/ Bonus B

Two for the Money appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. This was a lackluster transfer.

For the most part, sharpness seemed fine. The majority of the movie displayed adequate definition. However, the presence of some moderate edge enhancement gave some wider shots a more tentative feel, and they left things less than precise at times. I saw no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and outside of a little grain, no source flaws occurred.

Colors were decent to good. Money normally featured a fairly natural set of hues. The shots in the 900-number recording area seen early in the movie went with a heavy green tone, but otherwise the colors were fairly accurate and full. Blacks seemed reasonably deep, but shadows tended to be a little heavy. They could display moderate thickness, though low-light shots remained acceptably visible. While I didnít find a lot to criticize, I still thought the image was unspectacular.

Similar thoughts greeted the ordinary Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Two for the Money. With its emphasis on talk, the movie didnít offer a lot of good opportunities to take advantage of the various channels. Music boasted nice separation and delineation, but otherwise, elements usually stayed focused on the front. A few street scenes opened up matters, and cars drove smoothly around the area. A sequence in which Brandon went a little nuts behind the wheel even blossomed into full surround usage. That was the exception to the rule, however, as the mix normally didnít do much with effects.

Quality usually worked fine, though speech demonstrated some problems. The lines occasionally appeared a little edgy. They remained intelligible, and most of the dialogue was good, but I still heard more distortion than Iíd like. Effects didnít suffer from this problem, though, and they were acceptably dynamic. The score and songs sounded lively and rich; they were the best part of the mix. All of this meant that the audio merited a ďB-ď; it wasnít a bad soundtrack, but it didnít impress me either.

As we check out the DVDís supplements, we start with an audio commentary from director DJ Caruso and writer Dan Gilroy. Both sit together for a running, screen-specific track. They relate factual details about the person who inspired the Brandon character, locations, casting and performances, story issues and script development, and various production issues.

We get a reasonable amount of useful information here, but I canít claim that this adds up to an above-average commentary. Thereís too much of the usual happy talk and we simply donít get a great deal of depth or insight. The track offers good basics, though, so fans of the film will probably enjoy it.

Next comes a featurette called The Making of Two for the Money. This 11-minute and 22-second program offers the usual mix of movie clips, behind the scenes shots, and interviews. We hear from Caruso, Gilroy, sports handicapper Brandon Link, and actors Matthew McConaughey, Al Pacino, Jeremy Piven, and Rene Russo.

We find information about the movieís genesis, the story and characters, and the collaboration on the set. The show tosses out pretty basic notes and exists mainly to promote the movie. Some of the actorsí comments are good, but I canít say this promotional show was terribly valuable.

Called Insider Interview: The Real Brandon, we get a 16-minute and 16-second look at the person who inspired the McConaughey character. We find notes from Brandon Link as he chats with Gilroy about how they met and developed the project, Linkís real life experiences and how the movie reflects them, facets of the gambling business, and other reflections on his life.

Though we hear a little from Link in the prior featurette, this program gives us a much better look at him. He seems candid and lively in this chatty piece. We get a solid view of the reality behind the movie, and this turns out to be an interesting program.

Eight Deleted Scenes run a total of six minutes, 56 seconds. Each one lasts between 13 seconds and two minutes. Given the brevity of the clips, the absence of a ďPlay AllĒ option causes annoyance. Anyway, these are virtually all minor additions. We do get to see Brandonís attempted football comeback, though, and a moderately fun alternate intro to Toni appears. Nothing remotely vital shows up, however, and all of it likely deserved the axe.

We can watch the scenes with or without commentary. Actually, we can see them with two separate commentaries. One option allows you to hear Carusoís thoughts, while the other airs Gilroyís remarks. They occasionally say the same things, as they give us basic notes and usually tell us why the clips were removed. Iím not sure why the guys didnít do their deleted scenes comments with each other since they sat together for the main track, but they add some decent insights here.

In addition to the trailer for Money, we find a collection of TV Spots. The DVD includes seven of these, and each one lasts about 30 seconds.

Messy and melodramatic, Two for the Money takes an interesting story and punts it. The film wastes a strong cast along with its intriguing premise. It never remotely lives up to its potential, as it simply meanders and bores along its erratic path. The DVD presents fairly average picture and audio plus some moderately useful extras. This is a decent DVD for a lousy movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.9333 Stars Number of Votes: 15
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