(Woody Harrelson, Jason Alexander, David Cross, et al / DVD / R / (2007) 2008 / Anchor Bay Entertainment)
Overview: Woody Harrelson stars as One-Eyed Jack Faro a not-quite-fully-rehabbed gambler party monster and serial marry-er hoping to save his late grandfathers hotel-casino by winning $10 million cash at The Grand Championship Of Poker. But first he'll have to beat a Vegas field of geeks gurus online amateurs greedy developers ruthless housewives old-school pros and more of the top players in the world for the largest prize in poker history!
DVD Verdict: The popularity of poker will make this a hit just on the premise alone, but what makes this worth your time is the true-to-life feel the entire overlay of interviews and cameo filled performances provide. If you have watched any episode of the World Series of Poker - they made the whole film just like what you would see for a bracelet competition; drama, back-stories, gambling history, Internet players and luck.
Continuing his own recent streak of superior work, Woody Harrelson plays the drug-casualty owner of a failing Vegas casino, who pins his hopes on the tournament's winner-take-all $10 million pot. Standing between him and the loot are an expert ensemble at the top of their game—everyone from Cheryl Hines and David Cross as rival siblings to filmmaker Werner Herzog as a brass-knuckled, bunny-stroking nut known as "the German."
All six leads gave funny and believable shows for playing in the poker world; Woody's character is overdone a bit with the blind female magnetism he exudes (over 50 wives and every woman with intelligence apparently being attracted to his drug-induced stupors) but he still manages to fill out another role (5 this year) that makes you want to see the film just for him. Alternative humor with the German feels misplaced but I get the feel this was meant to be a hybrid of Chris Guest, ESPN, Arrested Development and real life drama.
Nagraneu, Dunson, and all of my other favorite players have screen time, the card playing is actually faster than what is seen on TV (which was great) and the DVD extras are worth giving some time too also. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs, and comes with the Special Features of:
Wild Cards: Player Profiles
Audio Commentary with Writer/Producer/Director Zak Penn, Writer/Executive Producer Matt Blerman and Actor Michael Karnow
Selected Scene Commentaries with Actors Woody Harrelson, Cheryl Hines and Ray Romano