Rounders (the name is short-hand for people who make their living playing poker) stars Matt Damon and Edward Norton as poker playing buddies going in different directions. Damon, after losing a very big money hand, has given up his cardsharping ways for law school and a career as a lawyer. Norton, on the other hand, just out of prison, is eager to build a new bankroll at the tables. As you might expect, for a number of reasons, Damon cannot stay away from the table forever, and consequently his budding law career and relationship with newcomer Gretchen Mol are both put in peril. The trouble Norton's character (not so subtly nicknamed "Worm") gets into does nothing to make Damon's life easier.
Director John Dahl (The Last Seduction) and the film's writers glamorize the world of professional poker playing from the outset, so be warned. If you don't feel that you can sympathize with trials and tribulations of professional gamblers, this film is probably not for you. If on the other hand, you are like me, and not only revere the strategy, psychology and probability of gambling, but also dabble in it from time to time, you will probably be drawn in and (hopefully not) inspired by this film. (You'll still probably need to reference the poker glossary on the film site's web page.) Just don't let it make you think you are a better poker player for having seen the film. Trust me, you're not.
Newly reissued as a Collector's Edition DVD to take advantage of the current craze in poker. Extras are hit and miss. A commentary from Dahl, Norton, and the screenwriters is apt, but the commentary from real poker players is a bit absurd (they seem to think the characters are real people). Other poker-centric featurettes and a set-top poker game add to the enjoyment for the poker newbie or fanatic.
Run time: 121 mins
In Theaters: Friday 11th September 1998
Box Office Worldwide: $22.9M
Distributed by: Miramax
Production compaines: Miramax Films
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 65%
Fresh: 51 Rotten: 28
IMDB: 7.4 / 10
Director: John Dahl
Starring: Matt Damon as Mike McDermott, John Turturro as Joey Knish, Gretchen Mol as Jo, Edward Norton as Lester 'Worm' Murph, John Malkovich as Teddy KGB, Famke Janssen as Petra, Martin Landau as Abe Petrovsky, Mal Z. Lawrence as Irving, Paul Cicero as Russian Thug, Ray Iannicelli as Kenny, Merwin Goldsmith as Sy, Sonny Zito as Tony, Josh Mostel as Zagosh, Lenny Clarke as Savino, Peter Yoshida as Henry Lin, Jay Boryea as Russian Thug #2, Lenny Venito as Moogie, Richard Mawe as Professor Eisen, Michael Lombardi as D.A. Shields, Tom Aldredge as Judge Marinacci, Tom Aldredge as Judge Kaplan, E. Matthew Yavne as Professor Green (as Matthew Yavne), Erik LaRay Harvey as Roy (as Eric LaRay Harvey), Dominic Marcus as Dowling, Brian Anthony Wilson as Derald, George Kmeck as Prison Guard, Joseph Parisi as Property Guard (as Joe Parisi), Melina Kanakaredes as Barbara, Kohl Sudduth as Wagner, Charlie Matthes as Birch, Hank Jacobs as Steiny, Chris Messina as Higgins, Famke Janssen as Petra, Michael Ryan Segal as Griggs, Kerry O'Malley as Kelly, Slava Schoot as Roman, Goran Višnjić as Maurice, Michael Rispoli as Grama, Michele Zanes as Taj Dealer, Allan Havey as Guberman, Joey Vega as Freddy Face (as Joe Vega), Neal Hemphill as Claude, Vernon E. Jordan Jr. as Judge McKinnon, Johnny Chan as Johnny Chan (as Jon C. Chan), Lisa Gorlitsky as Sherry, John Di Benedetto as LaRossa, Nicole Brier as Sunshine, Billy Campbell as Eisenberg, Tony Hoty as Taki, Mario Mendoza as Zizzo, Joe Zaloom as Cronos, Sal Richards as Johnny Gold, Josh Pais as Weitz, John Gallagher Jr. as Bartender, Adam LeFevre as Sean Frye, P.J. Brown as Vitter, David Zayas as Osborne, Michael Arkin as Bear, Murphy Guyer as Detweiler, Alan Davidson as Cabbie