Rounders Review

Eighty bucks. That's about how much money I've lost playing poker since I saw Rounders. Not that this statistic is an inherently bad sign for the movie or anything. In fact, the fact that I was so motivated by the movie to put all that money on the table speaks positively of the picture.

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.

Shopping Mol.


Facts and Figures

Run time: 121 mins

In Theaters: Friday 11th September 1998

Box Office Worldwide: $22.9M

Budget: $12M

Distributed by: Miramax

Production compaines: Miramax Films

Reviews 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 65%
Fresh: 51 Rotten: 28

IMDB: 7.4 / 10

Cast & Crew


Starring: as Mike McDermott, as Joey Knish, as Jo, as Lester 'Worm' Murph, as Teddy KGB, as Petra, 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, as Zagosh, as Savino, Peter Yoshida as Henry Lin, Jay Boryea as Russian Thug #2, as Moogie, Richard Mawe as Professor Eisen, 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, as Derald, George Kmeck as Prison Guard, Joseph Parisi as Property Guard (as Joe Parisi), as Barbara, Kohl Sudduth as Wagner, Charlie Matthes as Birch, Hank Jacobs as Steiny, as Higgins, as Petra, Michael Ryan Segal as Griggs, as Kelly, Slava Schoot as Roman, as Maurice, 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, as Eisenberg, Tony Hoty as Taki, Mario Mendoza as Zizzo, Joe Zaloom as Cronos, Sal Richards as Johnny Gold, as Weitz, as Bartender, as Sean Frye, P.J. Brown as Vitter, as Osborne, Michael Arkin as Bear, Murphy Guyer as Detweiler, Alan Davidson as Cabbie