The Grand (2007)
Writer/director Zak Penn’s ensemble docu-comedy about a poker tournament and the strange collection of characters that it affects, includes quirky, largely improvised performances from David Cross, Dennis Farina, Woody Harrelson, Cheryl Hines, Ray Romano, Chris Parnell, Gabe Kaplan, Richard Kind, and Michael McKean.
Movie Value: $6.00It’s Las Vegas and wild, drug-addled horndog “One Eyed” Jack Faro (Harrelson) has inherited a casino called The Rabbit’s Foot from his grandfather. His comic mismanagement ends up with him needing to raise millions of dollars or lose the casino to weird Trump-caricature Steve Lavisch (McKean). Thus he enters The Grand, a $10 million winner-takes-all poker tournament similar to the World Series of Poker, except without the licensing cost.
Here he competes against a collection of characters from the uber-nerd (Parnell) to the grizzled old-timer (Farina), on his way to the final table. Funny and offbeat, The Grand is a nice follow-up to Penn’s The Incident at Loch Ness.
All In (2006)
Movie Value: $1.00Dominique Swain plays a medical student whose dead, gambler father (Mike Madsen) taught her to play poker… not especially well either, if you pay attention to the hands and her constant celebration of absolutely dumb-luck as skill. Anyway, this is great because years later she needs some cash and can rely on her weird skillz to bank some med-school bucks, while her father tortures a cop to Stuck In The Middle by Stealers Wheel. Oh wait wrong picture.
So her and some friends enter the World Series of Poker (her friends help her cheat), where she realizes dad isn’t quite dead yet, and has a predictable face-off moment.
Slow and painful, All In is definitely not a good bet.
Lucky You (2007)
Movie Value: $2.00Eric Bana is a professional poker player and full-time jerk who begs, steals, and otherwise cons his way into a sleazy Las Vegas lifestyle that includes screwing over his sort-of girlfriend (Drew Barrymore) while trying to beat his stupidly competitive father (Robert Duvall). The whole thing comes to a head when the son inevitably faces-off against the father at the final table of the World Series of Poker tournament with predictable results.
There is interesting chemistry between Bana and Barrymore, but not much else in this 7D-2C-5H flop.