Wednesday, April 23, 2008

New Poker Movie is a Bad Deal!

The poker film "Deal" starring Burt Reynolds needs to shuffle up and re-deal. After the roaring success of the blackjack film "21" and the buzz surrounding the poker comedy "The Grand," the time seems ripe for yet another poker film...but I think it's a little overripe now. Dramatic poker films since the Cincinnati Kid and Rounders have all been losers, especially "Lucky You," which may have been the worst of them all. The same held true for ESPN's dramatic poker series "Tilt," which thankfully tilted off the air.

In Deal, Burt Reynolds, Shannon Elizabeth, and Bret Harrison give us the usual overplayed deal of friendship and competition. Alex Stillman (Bret Harrison) is a cocky young poker-playing student from Yale University who meets retired poker legend Tommy Vinson, played by Burt Reynolds. (I think the word "legend" following "poker" is itself a little overdealt.) Vinson immediately takes Stillman under his wing and teaches him about the game and all its nuances, paving Stillman's way down the road to becoming a winning poker pro.

In the process, of course, Vinson regains his enthusiasm for poker, and the duo predictably dominate the poker scene, until Stillman falls for, Michelle, a Las Vegas call girl (why couldn't it be a non-hooker for once?) played by Shannon Elizabeth, and their friendship begins to crumble. Stillman and Vinson eventually go their separate ways, only to meet up again as opponents at the World Series of Poker (who wouldn't have guessed this!), where they compete against each other fiercely.

The movie includes appearances by professional poker players Antonio Esfandiari, Phil Laak, Chris Moneymaker, and Joe Hachem, and also Scott Lazar, a poker pro who produced the film.

I think you might skip this deal!