DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Two for the Money

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Steve Tannehill, Jan 22, 2006.

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  1. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

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    XenForo Template  Two for the Money Studio: Universal Studios Home Video Year: 2006 (2005 Release) Rated: R (language, nudity, sex, violence) Aspect Ratio: 2.35x1, enhanced for 16x9 displays Audio: English DD 5.1; French DD 5.1; Commentary Captions/Subtitles: English SDH; French and Spanish Subtitles Time: 2:02:33 Disc Format: SS/DL (DVD-9) Case Style: Keep Case Insert: None Theatrical Release Date: October 7, 2005 DVD Release Date: January 17, 2006 The Feature: In Two for the Money, Matthew McConaughey plays Brandon Lang, who has lived for sports from the time he was a child. But a career-ending injury keeps him out of the pros. Flash forward several years, and he is in a dead-end job giving the sports line on a cheap 900 number with a surprising degree of accuracy. Lang catches the attention of Walter Abrams (Al Pacino) a New York sports gambling information broker (not a bookie) who hooks clients on an infomercial with the promise of free sports advice. If the client wins, he is expected to pay ten percent back to Abrams and company. The company's agents cajole and browbeat their clients when they have to, but basically dangle the golden carrot in front of gamblers with their "expertise." If you want to keep winning, you keep calling these guys back. When you are betting $10,000 on every game, that 10-percent fee can add up. But so can 90 percent of the winnings. Brandon is given an alter ego (emphasis on the ego) and ramps up fast, going from Walter's high-end 900-number and bypassing the boiler-room of sports advisors to become the star. "John Anthony" continues to have a winning streak, bringing him fame and fortune as Walter attempts to build an empire around the Anthony persona. Enter Rene Russo as Toni, Walter's wife. She attempts to keep the situation grounded, and watches out for the father of her daughter. Walter and Toni put the fun in dysfunctional: he's a recovering gambler with a heart condition; she's a recovering addict. Walter is the kind of guy who would go to a Gambler's Anonymous meeting and hand out business cards. What a sweetheart. But will Walter's lifestyle catch up to him? Will Brandon's winning streak come to an end? The role of Walter is tailor-made for Al Pacino, who chews the scenery with glee, but actually shows a bit more vulnerability than usual. He is part Roy Cohn, part Michael Corleone, part PT Barnum (including the elephant). McConaughey plays the naive "guru" who is swept off his feet by his manipulating mentor and father figure. He also looks good with his shirt off. Russo, who served as co-executive producer, and for whom her husband wrote the part, reminds us of the human toll of addiction and dysfunction. Jeremy Piven, who steals the show on HBO's Entourage has a small supporting role as an advisor on the outs; Armand Assante has a vile turn as a power-gambler who does not like to lose. (Ewww.) "Inspired by a true story," Two for the Money is well-acted and well-intentioned, but a bit formulaic. It also leaves a bit of a bad aftertaste. But the stars can not be ignored, the performances are good, and I'll have to admit that it showed an aspect of gambling that I've never seen, nor will I ever participate. The Feature: 3.5 / 5     Video: I broke in a new DVD player with Two for the Money: the NeuNeo HVD2085. This player upscales to 1080i over component inputs, and when a disc is properly flagged, provides a solid, smooth, and detailed picture. The picture quality of this 2.35x1 movie was very good, with a varied color palate ranging from the pale green florescent interior of a Vegas telemarketing firm, to the warm browns and beiges of New York loft apartments. I noticed traces of minor edge enhancement in one scene, but if you blink you will miss it. This is not eye candy, but it looked fine. By the way, the NeuNeo held up in brief comparisons to my work horse Panasonic RP91 (also hooked up to the big-screen Mitsubishi CRT set) and on the DVD-ROM associated with an Apple Cinema Display (where I usually check out supplements and other features). The player lacks a bit in ergonomic design and has gotten some mixed reviews, but I am going to continue to play around with it. The scaling feature of the RP91 makes it my favorite player, but I do not want to log excessive hours on it. Video: 4 / 5     Sound: The sound mix was nothing special, but this is a dialogue-driven film. Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, there are some ambient noises in the surrounds, but the bulk of the mix is focused on the front plane. I am almost to the point where I do not want to rank A/V quality, because there is nothing wrong with a movie that does not rock the foundation (or in my case, rumble the garage underneath the home theater). The soundtrack should serve the movie, not the home theater. If it does both, bonus. Sound: 3.5 / 5     Extras: Two for the Money comes with a variety of supplements, including:
  2. a feature Commentary with Director DJ Caruso and Screenwriter Dan Gilroy. They shed some perspective on the real story behind the movie. Interesting.
  3. The Making of Two for the Money (11:23) - the usual talking heads and movie clips compilation with some behind-the-scenes footage.
  4. Insider Interview: The Real Brandon (16:16) - we meet Brandon Link, the basis for the Brandon Lang character, in an interview with screenwriter Dan Gilroy.
  5. Eight Deleted Scenes (with optional commentaries by either director Caruso or screenwriter Gilroy) - a nice inclusion, but no great loss from the film.
  6. Theatrical Trailer (2:33) and TV Spots (3:30), both 4x3. Extras: 4 / 5     In Conclusion: I'll be honest... at first, I did not like Two for the Money. Once I got to know a little more about the real story behind it, I came to appreciate it more. The world of sports gambling is not glamorous, and unless you are a Hollywood hunk, the concept of losing your shirt is not appealing. But the story and performances of Two for the Money rise above your average movie, albeit slightly. Overall Rating: 3.5 / 5
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  8. Gereon_B

    Gereon_B Extra

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    Ahem... I think you got the thread title wrong... [​IMG]
     
  9. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

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    What, wasn't Audrey Hepburn in this movie? :b

    Oops, sowwy.

    - Steve
     
  10. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    Ha! I almost did the same thing when I reviewed Money. I decided to capitalize on this: we ran my Road review the day after I posted Money.

    (Road is a MUCH better movie, though!)
     

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