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TWO FOR THE MONEY (2005)

Director: D.J. Caruso
Screenplay: Dan Gilroy

Cast: Al Pacino, Matthew McConaughey, Renee Russo, Jeremy Piven, Armand Assante

MPAA Rating: R
Color, 123 minutes
Genre: Sports, Thriller, Comedy, Drama

Reviewed by Jim Lewis

I had difficulty getting "into" this film. Matthew McConaughey plays Brandon Lang, a small time gambling tout who predicts football results with an accuracy unseen in that industry. Because he has quarterbacking in his background, he has a big picture view of each game, or something.

I turned off the DVD before Pacino appeared and let it sit for a month. I felt the story was improbable, then a friend told me it was based on a true story. So I returned to see what the heck was pushing me away.

I never believed that McConaughey’s Lang had a gift. His results staggered the sports betting world. He was the Edgar Cayce of sports touts. He caught the eye of Al Pacino’s Walter Abrams, reigning king of sports gambling. He becomes the Mike Tyson of heavyweight betting. He also loses direction.

Pacino and Rene Russo bring life to the film. The relationships between these three become compelling and watchable. The sports betting stays on a front burner, screaming for our attention, but we really want to see if McConaughey and Russo will cheat on Pacino, his mentor.

Armand Assante does a nice turn as a client who becomes not very nice.

I was left with a pleasant after-taste, but not before being put to the test for the opening 20 minutes. I’ll recommend sitting down with your popcorn or sandwich, or you may get up and make it as the narrative rolls by. You don’t want to miss Pacino, Russo, Assante and their chemistry with McConaughey.

Grist for post-movie chat over coffee: Was I off base, you found this riveting from the jump? Was Matt believable in the role?

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