Directed by: D.J. Caruso
Written by:Dan Gilroy
Starring: Al Pacino, Matthew McConaughey, Rene Russo, Armand Assante, Jeremy Piven, Jaime King
Released: May 11, 2006
Grade: B-

Sports betting is big business.  For some people, it’s the only reason they watch sport.  Two For The Money is a film which looks at the crazy world of football betting in the United States.

Brandon Lang (McConaughey) was once a footballer with professional aspirations.  That was until a crippling knee industry ended his short career.  Needing to find a job to care for his brother and mother, Brandon found work at a dial-up gambling service.  Gamblers would call up, pay a small fee, and get Brandon’s “exclusive” tips.

After a few rounds, Brandon’s advice was become more and more popular.  He was picking 80% of all winners but still making just $12 an hour.  That would change with a single phone call from Walter Abrams (Pacino).  Walter runs a huge tipping service in Manhattan which has a large sales team.  Customers call up and get the week’s football picks.  If they lose, they owe nothing.  If they win, they have to hand over a small percentage of their winnings.  As they tell their customers – you’re not handing over your money but rather the bookies money!

Walter employs Brandon and starts grooming him to be his protégé.  He changes Brandon’s name to John Anthony, buys him a new wardrobe and starts including him on his cable television show.  Brandon returns the favour for Water by simply picking winners.  As word spreads of this incredible tipster, Walter’s business takes off and the money starts rolling in.

Can you guess what happens next?  It doesn’t take an expert to figure it out and the film pans out in very predictable fashion.  If there is one surprise, it’s that the film isn’t very critical of the gambling industry.  It glazes over the problems associated with gambling and at times, I thought it promoted it.  How is it that a single tipster can have a success rate far superior to his competitors without any real inside information?  I didn’t buy it.

My other gripes with Two For The Money are its length and what it focuses on.  The film goes for just over two hours and many scenes are too long.  We didn’t need the long, drawn-out football matches at the end of the film where it feels like every touchdown in every film is shown.  The time would be better spent elsewhere.  For example, Brandon has a one-night stand with a girl named Alexandria (King) in a quick and strange sub-plot.  Why was this developed more?  Brandon gets a phone call from his estranged father at one point and yet this is never mentioned again.  Why was it even included?

My personal tip is that you should give this film a miss.  That advice is free of charge.