Movie Review – Two for the Money (2005)

Director: D. J. Caruso

Stars: Al Pacino, Matthew McConaughey, Rene Russo, Jeremy Piven

Two for the Money follows the story of Brandon (McConaughey), a football player who was about to hit it big when he suffered a knee injury that makes him poison to any recruiters. He ends up working for a betting pick phoneline, until a big time tout, Walter (Pacino) offers him a job, and makes him a star. He rides the crest of the wave to fame and fortune as he carves out a new life for himself, but the vices of the job are all too tempting.

Two for the Money automatically loses points because as anyone knows it’s one for the money and two for the show. But this one is pretty decent. Off the top of my head I’m not aware of too many films that explore the world of ‘pick betting’, where people call in and pay experts for their tips. It was interesting to find out about the world and all the complexities. As always in these types of stories the downfall was predictable, as anything good never lasts for long. 

Al Pacino was allowed to let loose here, and that’s always fun. I liked his relationship with Brandon, and how the pressures of the lifestyle got to the both of them. Rene Russo played Walter’s wife, Toni, and the scenes with the three of them were the highlights of the film. 

It only gave a brief glimpse of how Brandon’s actions actually affected the people who were asking him for picks, and I thought we could have seen more of these results. The film seemed to pick up some threads and then leave them dangling, like the threat of a millionaire. He seemed to just disappear from the film without much result. 

The story itself was fairly unfocused and it was comprised of a lot of snapshots. The only thing holding it together were the main three actors, and they helped to elevate the material. I was expecting Two for the Money to have more twists and turns than it did, and the twists it did have didn’t seem to reverberate with much impact. However, there were some hugely entertaining scenes, one in particular where Walter and Brandon visit a Gamblers’ Anonymous meeting. 

So I’d put this in the category where I liked it and it’s an easy watch about something that I don’t think has been explored too often on screen. The main draw, however, is the three cast so if you don’t like them the strength of the story won’t be enough to make up for their presence. 


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