Directed by DJ Caruso, starring Al Pacino, Matthew McConaughey, Rene Russo and Jeremy Piven.
Given the current poker craze that is sweeping the nation, and the ever-increasing profits of the various bookmakers across the country, a movie displaying a look at the inner workings of sportscasters should be a riveting watch. However, 'Two for the Money' fails to delve deep enough into the traps and pitfalls that face the punter and the profiteer. The scope may have been somewhat limited by the fact that it is based on true events but the outcome is a little bit too Disney-fied and stereotypical of most sports movies.
The lead in to the main story sets the stall out well, Brandon Lang (McConaughey) is an up and coming NFL star who suffers a horrific injury, just as he was about to break into the big time. On his road to a possible recovery he works for a telephone service that provides horoscopes, betting advice, etc. Brandon has an excellent streak of correct predictions on the betting line and attracts the attention of the main sports forecasters in the country – enter Walter Abrahams (Pacino).
Abrahams makes his money by offering a forecasting service to gamblers from around the US. He decides to groom Brandon as his main forecaster and seeks to fill the young man with confidence so he can influence punters to up their stakes from $1000 here or there to $50,000 every Sunday. However his methods are a little short of ethical.
Initially, Brandon's inside knowledge of the football scene guarantees success when he starts his stint on the company's weekly predictions television broadcast, much to the ire of former number one forecaster Jerry (Piven).
Abrahams continues his grooming of Lang and convinces him to assume an alter ego, John Anthony, to add to the mystery and suave of the number one sports forecaster in the country. The newfound confidence improves his forecasting abilities but ultimately leads to over-confidence in his own skill. As Brandon continues his journey under the tutelage of Abrahams, the character that loved football and predicting the way that teams would play is slowly eroded.
Eventually, Abrahams begins to gamble with his own life and that of his prodigy. His agency successfully grooms the world's largest sports gambler just as Brandon begins to lose his knack for predicting the points differential of every other game. The consequences of a losing streak could bring the company down.
And this is where the movie breaks from being an adventure through the consequences of high-stakes gambling and travels along a tangent of morals and ethics that have been played out in countless features before.
From here the acting performances carry the movie as the main duo bounce expertly off each other. This is one of Pacino's finest performances in years and McConaughey is his usual charming self. However, Piven almost steals the show with an excellent display of pettiness and petulance.
Overall, 'Two for the Money' seems like an opportunity missed rather than a new window opened into the gambling world. The odds on 'Two for the Money' doing well at the box office should be long enough as this should only be viewed by those that are longing for another dose of Pacino before his next outing.