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A young, reformed gambler must return to playing big stakes poker to help a friend pay off loan sharks, while balancing his relationship with his girlfriend and his commitments to law school.
I should probably let my good buddy David Lieto write this review, since he fancies himself a poker aficionado, but this is one my my favorite movies so he's gonna have to live with it. I've never been much of a poker player, but I definitely went through a bad gambling streak in my twenties. At the time, it was not uncommon for me to drop a few thousand on a weekend trip to the casino(s). And, trust me, like most degenerate gamblers, I didn't have it to lose. I'm pretty sure that's how I built up my early credit card debt that still drags me down today.
So, if you're a degenerate gambler, don't watch this movie. It won't be good for you. Even if you haven't developed a true gambling problem yet, if you think in your head that you could become a professional poker player if you really put your mind to it, DON'T WATCH THIS MOVIE. You will walk away thinking more than ever that you can do it. But, chances are, you can't.
With that said, I can now start sharing all the reasons why I really like "Rounders". First off, it's a great gambling movie...and I mean that in the best way possible. You learn a lot about No Limit Hold Em Poker, while traveling on the journey with the main character "Mike McDermott" (played my Matt Damon) and his n'er-do-well of a best friend "Worm" (played by Edward Norton). Twenty years ago, both of these now-established actors were just getting their mojo on, so it's really great to see them play off of each other in this film that was never going to win any Oscars. Both Matt and Ed turn in solid performances and help to make this a highly entertaining ride.
The story is pretty tight and I enjoy a film that uses first person narration, and Matt Damon does an excellent job of keeping me interested with his storytelling abilities. But Damon and Norton, at the time, were some of the lesser known names in the film. Supporting these two young superstars is John Malkovich, John Turturro and the great Martin Landau. Also making appearances (some small and some even smaller) are: Famke Janssen ("X-Men"), Goran Visnjic ("E.R.") and Gretchen Mol ("The Notorious Bettie Page").
I thought this movie was gonna be a lot more predictable than it was, and that's always a good thing with me. If it's too predictable, I lose interest. "Rounders" kept me entertained and seemed to stay a bit off center, so that I never knew exactly how things would unfold. And, even though the ending is probably not what you would expect, I liked it.
I recommend this movie for anyone that likes Matt Damon, Ed Norton or a good gambling pic. Supposedly "Rounders 2" is in the works. If it has either of those two attached, I'm there.
I give this movie 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.