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Thursday, June 5, 2008


The rise & fall of Matthew McConaughey as a good ol’ boy who is first wooed, but eventually undone by mentor/father-figure Al Pacino (in a minor key repeat of his DEVIL’S ADVOCATE turn), should be enough to hang a movie on. The fact-based story gimmick is McConaughey's gift for picking Pro-Ball winners for an illegal gambling operation, but the filmmakers find little dramatic charge and no surprise in either the story or character arcs. The script also fails to disguise the more unsavory aspects of the high stakes sports betting demimonde, alternately celebrating & condemning, which leaves an actor as technically unequipped as McConaughey directionless when he should be running the show. Helmer D. J. Caruso provides little help, but a pro like Pacino knows how to take care of himself and has some fun making like Camille with an on-again/off-again heart condition to chew on. And if this leaves an underused Rene Russo, as Pacino's wife, stuck with some real suffering (a thankless role), that's what big movie stars sometimes have to do. It's just this sort of self-preservation that the film needs to be about, but no one noticed the parallel.

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