Like Rounders before it, Two for the Money should find a big home for itself on DVD.
There is something missing here that makes it hard to become 100% engaged by this story.
Two for the Money had the potential to be a better film than it ultimately is. It is entertaining, engaging and the kind of movie that focuses on the characters performances which is rare in today’s marketplace. Yet, there is something missing here. This is the story of Brandon Lang (Matthew McConaughey) who gets hurt playing college football, and he soon takes his knowledge of the game and starts using it as a sports advisor. He catches the eye of New York big shot Walter Abrams (Al Pacino), and is soon flown back East, given a job and has tremendous success. Suddenly, Lang hits a dry spell and that’s where this movie becomes more about Lang’s soul than his soulful way of making people money with his sports picks.
This film feels good. There is something about the action and the world depicted that is both lively and authentic. Pacino is isn’t over the top (not that I mind when he is), McConaughey is McConaughey, but I usually find him to be likable and Rene Russo is good as Pacino’s moral compass. Yet, there is just something about this film that stops me from saying that it’s great. It’s enjoyable and it’s certainly one to be watched again and again (if for no other reason than to hear such Pacinoism’s as ”Shut your toilet.”), but Two for the Money is a gamble that never fully pays off.
These deleted scenes are parts of the movie that seem to have been cut because director D.J. Caruso didn’t feel like they advanced the story. I have decided I really like these excised scenes when there is a commentary track (which there is here), because I think it helps us understand the story more. We get a perspective and a sense of what was there vs. what is there now.
The Making of Two for the Money is a look at this film, plus we are given the opportunity to see Pacino as he builds his character in a scene. What I think is interesting is that he (like Warren Beatty) seems to enhance the portrayal of the character with every take. It really is that process that we always hear about of an actor layering the performance. This “making of” is pretty standard, though, I really did find Pacino’s moments to be a cut above what we usually see.
Brandon Lang, the person about whom this movie is based, is actually more engaging and interesting than this film. This is someone who has such a strong sense and belief in himself, that it isn’t surprising that he is one of the world’s best and most revered sports advisors. This interview segment is especially interesting just because we finally get to see the person behind the story.
This is an audio commentary with D.J. Caruso and screenwriter Dan Gilroy. D.J. Caruso is truly a guy’s guy. He is the kind of person you would want to watch a sporting event with, and Dan Gilroy is good here as the person he bounces his ideas off of. Even though I might think that this story is lacking something, I think it would be undeniable that there is a certain depth to this film. Hearing these two go back and forth isn’t totally necessary, but for the gamblers watching this movie, listening to these tracks might help them discover more about who they are and why they do what they do.
Anamorphic Widescreen - 2.35:1. Two for the Money is a very interior movie. What I mean by this is that much if it takes places in doors, in dark rooms, where people walk around in nice clothes sweating out their existence as they try and squeeze people out of their money. It is gritty in the sense that I bought the characters who made up the scenes. Matthew McConaughey seems like a character who constantly needs to wipe his brow. Pacino is as relaxed as a man can be who is consumed by his work and Rene Russo is there watching from the sidelines. This film is almost claustrophobic which really helps it put across the ideas of the gambling lifestyle.
English and French Dolby Digital - 5.1. Subtitled in English, Spanish and French. This movie has a jazzy undertone to it. Almost a foreboding sense that Brandon (and the viewers) better not get too comfortable, because at any moment the stakes of the game can change and they are unapologetic about doing do. There isn’t anything that spectacular being done with the audio, and I don’t think it really helps us illuminate any more about the main characters. It, like the film’s look, just serves as a way for us to believe what we are seeing on screen.
The front cover features Al Pacino and Matthew McConaughey. It’s the same artwork that was used to promote this movie on it’s theatrical run. It’s a good picture even if Pacino looks ancient and McConaughey needs a shower. The back cover features 3 shots of our main characters, a small description of this film, a “Special Features” listing, a cast list and a few technical specs. Something tells me if this DVD performs well then there will be special edition in a year or so.
I look forward to seeing what people think of this movie on DVD. I thought it might do better than it did when it opened theatrically. Two for the Money seemed to hit theaters, it made a bit of noise, but nobody seemed to be talking about it much the weekend after it was released. It seemed like one of those films that A) people knew about but just didn’t care about or B) people knew about but there were also a lot of other movies they knew about too.
I would say rent Two for the Money, and if you find yourself watching it over and over, or at least thinking about it then make it a part of your DVD collection. As it stands, I would say one should certainly make every effort to at least see this movie for the characterizations being put across.
Two For the Money was released October 7, 2005.