Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Movie Review #47: The Rounders

There are a bunch of movies I want to watch, but it's hard to string together 2-3 hours where I can sit down and actually focus on one I want to watch. Some movies I'm hoping to watch soon include 12 Monkeys, Ice Storm, The Good the Bad and the Ugly, Raising Arizona, and The Fisher King. Given that I'm supposed to watch a movie every week this year, and that this is movie #47, I have five movie left. I think those five movies should probably be it.

Anyway, I chose this movie randomly while browsing Netflix for something to watch while eating breakfast. I just finished it, after 3-4 sittings.

Short review: there are better Matt Damon movies, better Edward Norton movies, and better poker movies. That said, it's competent and engaging enough. The actors perform well, but the story itself is rather predictable.


A talented gambler gives up poker after a devastating loss, but when an old friend gets out of jail and needs $15k in a hurry to pay off debtors, the gambler risks everything to help his friend dig his way out.


The biggest problem with this movie is that I'm not entirely sure what it's trying to say.

The closest thing seems to be a lesson about not denying your passions, which is fair enough. Mike's professor in particular tells his story about when he decided not to become a rabbi, a decision that ruined his relationship with his family. Sure enough, following his passion for poker likewise leads to Mike losing much of the life he was building for himself: his girlfriend, his education, even his money at some point. However, his life was unexciting to him while he wasn't playing, and his friend Worm reignited that passion.

Unfortunately, though clearly Mike has a high opinion of his girlfriend, she's unfortunately portrayed as the stereotypical woman who wants her man to settle down and give up his passions for a more secure life, unwilling to bend on that point even a little bit. That said, rather than trying to make Mike change for her, she simply leaves him. She knows she can't deal with a gambling man, and though it's hard for both of them, she does what she has to do. So, I understand why she does what she does, but the movie doesn't do a good job of portraying her choice as reasonable.

Interestingly, it takes Mike some time to do that same to Worm, who is likewise a bad fit with him. Worm is a compulsive cheater, and though he reignites Mike's passion, he also runs Mike into the ground. He takes and takes from Mike, far more than he gives. Mike is basically given much the same choice as his girlfriend was given: here's a man asking you to follow him into a live you can't handle. Do you follow for the sake of your relationship, or do you spare yourself a life of hardship? Mike chooses the same path as his girlfriend, and we don't see Work again.

So, I guess the message here is twofold: don't deny your passions, and don't hold onto a bad hand.

Anyway, now I kinda want to play poker. I think I'd be good at it.

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