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Beat the Sports Books:
An Insider's Guide to Betting the NFL


. "Two For the Money"

A great looking guy picks up a gorgeous blond in a restaurant and later finds out she's... what, you heard this one? No, it's not a joke--it's part of a slick trifecta on sports, gambling and blown up character issues. I can just see the studio heads rounding up a team of writers to pound out this late-year star vehicle for Al Pacino and friends.

My guess is that it started out with the idea to do something original in the line of sports movies. Mission accomplished. This isn't sports, it's sports gambling.

Walter Abrams (Pacino) is a gambling entrepreneur who runs his empire of bookies off an infomercial TV show, offering bettors free picks, mostly on football games during the season. He takes his cut as a percentage of winnings. Losers pay nothing except their bets. Great concept, but Walter needs a better picker.

Enter Brandon Lang (Matthew McConaughey), a former college quarterback, an adonis in the weight room, and a guy with "the gift" to predict final scores. For a time it works and Lang is giving everyone an adrenalin rush by making them rich. Walter's wife Toni (Rene Russo) is around to keep his feet on the ground and to suggest she might turn Brandon into a sex toy. A gambler's suppressed desire, you see, is to lose, and writer Dan Gilroy is nothing if not determined to add that inside wisdom to his piece. Betting on it has about the same odds as Saddam Hussein dying of old age.

See McConaughey charm, transform, win, lose, rebel, turn serious, turn into a total jerk, and come to realize money isn't life >>flash, flash: message, message<<.

Pacino sells, brags, manipulates, cons, grooms, hugs, jokes, schmoozes, rages, exults, debates, shows off, gets again to play the mentor (see, "The Devil's Advocate") and emote all over the scenery in this gambling world two-fer. These writers are good! (Although, Gilroy gets the sole credit).

The real message is, don't bet on Pacino retreads.

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  


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Al Pacino, Matthew McConaughey, Jeremy Piven
On camera, awaiting cues
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