The Gambler (2014): Lit professor and gambler Jim Bennett's debt causes him to borrow money from his mother and a loan shark. Further complicating his situation is his relationship with one of his students. Will Bennett risk his life for a second chance?
God this movie sucks. Ok what is with Mark Whalberg and bad movies in 2014? I love this guy, but these two movies he's led in 2014 may very well end up in my bottom 10 worst movies of the year. STOP IT WHALBERG. PLEASE. FIND SETH MACFARLANE AGAIN. How do I not simply just rip this movie apart? Hm....nope. Nope. Can't do it. Ok, here we go then! So when I started this 111 minute film, I was looking forward to an interesting story of a man attempting to overcome his addiction to gambling while simultaneously having an interesting romance with Brie Larson. (This is how the movie is marketed, by the way.) I got neither of these. You want to know what Whalberg's version of gambling is? Hm? Going to blackjack (which they don't explain or really even show all that well, so if you don't know the finer rules of blackjack you're screwed) tables and betting everything he has on the hand. Then, if he wins, betting everything he now has on that hand. And again. And again. And again. You do the math...anyone with a brain can figure out that THIS STRATEGY DOESN'T F*CKING WORK. So, the "drama' of the actual card game is completely removed because YOU KNOW HE'S GOING TO LOSE. Ok where's Jason Bateman when you need him?
I know I just used this picture a few reviews ago, but I don't care. YOU CAN'T CREATE ANY TENSION WITH THE CARD GAME WHEN YOUR STRATEGY AS A PLAYER IS TO JUST KEEP BETTING EVERYTHING YOU HAVE ON THE HAND. YOU CANNOT WIN. And when that's where the majority of your movie's tension is supposed to come from, that's....that's not good. Can we also take a moment to talk about how bad the writing is? This movie honestly feels like one monologue after another. Just all in a row. First it's Mark Whalberg. Then it's Michael Kenneth Williams (from Boardwalk Empire-who also happens to be the best part of this movie) giving some big monologue. Then it's John Goodman. Then it's Mark Whalberg again. Then it's Brie Larson. Then it's Jessica Lange. Then it's...GOD THEN IT'S MARK WHALBERG AGAIN. GOD D*MNIT. You cannot create a good movie that is nothing but monologue after monologue. Even if you have a very good cast. Who are all far more interesting that Whalberg's character, I might add. I wish the movie had been entirely about John Goodman's character rather than Whalberg's. Would've been a lot better.
There really isn't that many good things to talk about here. The music supervisor must've been on drugs or something because the song selection was all over the place. The production value was horrible. We had this very tense moment involving a college basketball game, and the team's playing each other were State and Wildcats. It felt like something out of an Allstate commercial. The movie did have some cool M83 music in it! Always gotta give a point to a movie when they use my favorite band. A lot of movies have recently actually...also it took me forever to figure out the movie was taking place in LA because the wide, establishing shots of the movie were crap. Only when there was a scene between Brie and Mark OH! I need to talk about that. Ok so there's this scene between Mark and Brie where they are in the desert all of the sudden and that's when I figured out the movie must be taking place in LA because there really isn't another tropical city in the country so close to the desert. YA. FIGURING SH*T OUT ON MY OWN CAUSE THE MOVIE REFUSES TO TELL ME ALRIGHT.
So can we talk about this "romance" between Brie and Mark? I can't even put romance in caps there. That's how bad it is. So it's a 111 minute film, right? With a whole lot of various scenes. Ya. There's my quick lesson on moviemaking: unless you're Birdman, you shoot your movie with a lot of different scenes. You want to know how many scenes of The Gambler even have Brie Larson and Mark Whalberg? Huh? 10? 15? Half the movie? Nope. 3. Ok maybe 4. But still. 3 or 4. There's supposed to be this big romance that changes Whalberg as a gambler because now he has something to loose, but it's set up with 4 whole scenes. And then he forces Brie to not help him in the third act as he tries to fix everything. Look. Every action movie knows that when you have a female character the main character falls for, YOU HAVE HER JOIN THE MAIN CHARACTER IN THE CLIMAX. That's how most of these movies establish a legitimate relationship between the two characters! Nope. Not here. "Wait for me. I'll be back." He might as well've just said that. Actually, I think he did. Just with a not-so-dramatic "I'll be back if I'm still alive." Moment. Yup. 10/10.
God this movie sucks. And you know what's worse? This movie had the audacity to release on December 25. On Christmas Day. With the biggest releases of the year like Unbroken, American Sniper, Big Eyes, Into the Woods, and Selma, here's The Gambler being released because they thought they had a legitimate chance at some Oscar nominations. Shame on you. Look, I love Paramount. Hell, I might even work there someday, (hopefully they don't read this....) but why did the execs watch this movie and think it was a good idea to not push this movie into the black hole that is January? WHY DIDN'T YOU DO THIS? YOUR LOGIC MAKES NO SENSE. IT WAS A LIMITED RELEASE TOO. You actually thought you had a chance at some Oscar nominations? Wow. I'm done here. I guess the Paramount execs can make mistakes sometimes. It's ok. Nobody's perfect. I still love you....
The Critique: MONOLOGUE. Some transition shots. ANOTHER MONOLOGUE. There. Just summed up The Gambler for you. Go watch the original before you watch this. Or Leaving Las Vegas if you want gambling addiction done right.
The Recommendation: AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE (I must say I look forward to this moment of a bad movie review. I like giving that as my recommendation.)
Rewatchability: 1.5/10 Basically Unwatchable. Just for John Goodman, Michael Kenneth Williams, and M83. That's the only enjoyment here.
"Like" Enter the Movies on Facebook for the latest and greatest on all things movies! OR ELSE FACE THE CONSEQUENCES OF A KILLER RABBIT. Sorry about this one, guys. Not my decision. He volunteered. And is just absolute dynamite!