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Awesome: 20.55%
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13 reviews, 68 user ratings

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by iF Magazine

"It's a sad day when you witness such a waste of fine talent."
1 stars

ROUNDERS is being billed as "the new thriller from LAST SEDUCTION director John Dahl." Oddly though, ROUNDERS is anything but thrilling and hardly a thriller at that. Once again trying to place a square peg in a round hole, the movie marketing people are trying to shove this soulless piece of crass filmmaking down our throats by making us think it could be something new and original when it's exactly like all the other films that have come before it.

It's also always a bad sign when the press notes that reviewers are given to accompany a film provide a glossary of terms necessary to the framework of the movie. In the case of ROUNDERS, the glossary of terms spans four pages and even if you studied them before going into the movie they won't matter much-- the movie doesn't make sense to the average reviewer let alone the average Joe who won't have the press note advantage.

Get your thinking camps on, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

What everyone has to settle for is a routine tale of a well-intentioned young man Mike McDermott (Matt Damon). He's a reformed gambler working his way through law school. He's got a great girlfriend Jo (Gretchen Mol) but he doesn't have cash which forces him to work odd jobs to make ends meet.

Then his old gambling buddy Worm (Edward Norton) is released from prison and sucks his friend back into their old ways. At first it's merely for a passing thrill, then it's for real as Mike gets the gambling bug again. Initially his justification is that he's doing it to help his friend out the gambling debts that could get him killed. Then it's Mike's neck on the line too and he's pulled even further in than he ever expected -- at risk of losing everything he's tried so hard to build up for himself.

If the film wasn't played so coy, ROUNDERS might have been a passable little character study. As it stands though, director John Dahl and screenwriters David Levien and Brian Koppelman pretend they've got a movie just as smart and savvy as THE STING. They think they've got twists. They think they've got turns. What they've got though is a movie that doesn't appeal to anyone but card sharks who have a love and expert knowledge of the game.

Where is the tension in a card game, when you don't know how to play the obscure card games the characters play in the film?

The film's priorities are a little screwy at times too. You want to root for Mike, but Mike's goals are too shaky and his constant willingness to help his friend Worm (and turn his back on his devoted girlfriend) is a bit suspect.

Good performances abound though. Damon continues to mine his million-dollar smile for what it's worth even though he's little more than pretty boy accouterments to the film's sketchy premise. Norton is the one that gets to act here -- once again proving himself one of the brightest and most intriguing young leading man out there. Newcomer Mol does a nice turn as Damon's girlfriend, though its hard to gauge here whether she's talented or not but the limited screen time she gets.

Three supporting players also get to shine in quirky parts. John Malkovich is absolutely evil as card maven Teddy KGB, Martin Landau plays Mike's law school mentor and John Turturro is appealing as Mike's card playing mentor.

Sadly, ROUNDERS stacks the cards against itself early on by not knowing what type of film it wants to be. It's not a thriller but it's not a very good drama either. Instead it's an offbeat little character story that would like to be PULP FICTION but will have to settle for being second-rate Scorsese.

It's a sad day when you witness such a waste of fine talent like on screen here. -- ANTHONY C. FERRANTE - iF Magazine (http://ifmagazine.ifctv.com)

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=66&reviewer=119
originally posted: 06/22/99 09:13:38
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User Comments

11/08/10 Ken Jacobi Whoever wrote negative comments is crazy. 1 of the Best films ever and VERY real characters 5 stars
3/02/09 KingNeutron Must-see for any poker fan - Malkovich steals the show 4 stars
9/25/08 Timothy Kirkland "If you can't spot the sucker at the first half hour than you are the sucker" Enough said. 5 stars
9/08/06 Michele not the best not the worst 3 stars
8/04/06 ruth ammelia it's a great film i've ever seen 4 stars
5/05/06 dionwr Entertaining but silly film 2 stars
5/02/06 Ryan_A Beat the poker craze by about five years. Slick movie. 4 stars
5/01/06 William Goss Haven't seen it. 3 stars
5/01/06 David Cornelius all in 5 stars
5/01/06 HBS-SH i work for chewlie's gum 4 stars
5/01/06 Monday Morning Very tight, slick, entertaining flick. Malkovich's Russian accent is cartoonish, tho'. 4 stars
2/16/06 tatum Good flick, despite Norton's patented weasely performance 4 stars
1/05/06 Phil M. Aficionado I agree with Guide2Film's review. Almost awesome; lots of insight into gambling. Slick. 4 stars
8/16/05 ES Sweet film, good characters, right mixture of suspense and style 4 stars
7/13/05 nixon obviously the reviewers have never played poker before in their pathetic lives 5 stars
6/12/05 Agent Sands Best card game movie I can think of. 5 stars
5/10/05 Simon As good as can be a poker movie. 5 stars
10/21/04 John so well shot and great acting...much better than expected 4 stars
6/22/04 Phil Ivey If you don't believe people make money playing poker, you might not like it. 5 stars
6/21/04 Dick Logan Good cast, great film. Malkovich is the bomb in this!!!! 5 stars
2/22/04 Courtney Rounders is one of the best movies out there! It never gets old. 5 stars
12/02/03 Kyle GAG! Might possibly appeal to poker players. Abysmal for everyone else. 1 stars
12/01/03 George Tucker This film is awesome!!!!!!! If you like playing cards watch this movie!!! 5 stars
10/12/03 Leo McDermott So far, everyone who reviewed this movie must NOT play poker. Poker is a FINE career! 5 stars
9/25/03 Darryl I only made it about halfway through. BORING! 1 stars
6/05/03 Picky Critic Good acting. If you want a movie about gambling, this is a good choice 4 stars
5/01/03 Bri Travis I think it is a kick ass movie!!! 4 stars
4/11/03 Jack Sommersby You've been down this tired road soooooo many times before... 2 stars
3/14/03 R.W. Welch Rather intriguing pic, somewhat undermined by predictable finale. 3 stars
7/29/02 Claire This is as almost as gratifiyng as Vegas, but without the drunken imprompu wedding... 4 stars
7/08/02 erick i don't know know shit bout poker, and i loved this movie, great performances, ect. 5 stars
5/13/02 jason green top ten of all time here.... 5 stars
2/25/02 IP Freely Has some of the best lines, this movie kicks ass, I play a lot so I guess I am biased 5 stars
1/14/02 Chris Delehanty Great Movie 5 stars
1/01/02 Katre It has Edward Norton,so it is worth a watch. 3 stars
9/08/01 Butterbean People who don't play cards (like me) would be bored with some parts of this movie. 3 stars
7/10/01 Ted Donnelly I thought Jon Malcovich's portrayal of "Teddy KGB" was outstanding. 5 stars
3/27/01 Jesse L Best gambling movie made...if you like poker you'll love it 5 stars
5/02/00 Matt Sabian Mol is hot, Damon good, but ending should've been together 4 stars
3/12/00 Trina Barnard I've seen it more than once! 5 stars
2/18/00 Neil Austin Where did Malko go and learn his accent??? 2 stars
10/29/99 Bozo mee too zenabll, but norton makes even shite like this better 2 stars
8/10/99 adjovi worth seeing if only for Norton's effortless scene stealing performance. 4 stars
7/26/99 emperor Norton/Damon good pair. 4 stars
7/15/99 GothamDK Don't really dig Damon, but I love hold'em poker. Good flick. 4 stars
2/19/99 Piz The story drains after a while, same-o same-o, but its worth a look see. 4 stars
2/19/99 Bruce Hedge Great verisimilitude,except the aftermath of the cop beating was a bit unbelievable. 4 stars
2/18/99 Derek Great Damon-Norton rapport. Still, mainly for those versed in poker. 4 stars
2/11/99 Mr Film Predictable, but extremely entertaining and very well done.. Damon is the man... 5 stars
10/28/98 zenball i don't care if he is the IT boy of Hollywood, I HATE MATT DAMON 2 stars
10/17/98 Mr Showbiz Pulse-jacking crash course in the rites, risks, and honor system behind illegal poker-for-g 5 stars
10/13/98 jym marty from st louis is a tool---why didnt it have character development??? 5 stars
10/12/98 tom sweet flick--perfect ending, not to happy or sad--norton /damon--the best in one film 5 stars
10/04/98 Jay Stein They took The Gambler and put it in a blender with Good Will Hunting. Fuggit! 2 stars
10/01/98 Specter A good movie, but pointless on the whole. 3 stars
9/28/98 Marty in St.Louis Totally predictable, no character development, go rent the Hustler. 2 stars
9/25/98 Armageddon Pretty good flick.. Matt Damon is great again, and supporting actors are cool. 4 stars
9/15/98 Gamma Terrific performances from all involved. Malkovich is awesome, as always. 4 stars
9/14/98 Negative Creep Norton's great though his disapearance with 40 mins left to go leaves the film feeling flat 3 stars
9/14/98 jack gordon Good, but Malkovich's fake Russian accent has to go. 4 stars
9/14/98 Badass A strong poker face of actors covers up a shitty hand of a script 4 stars
9/13/98 Chip Taylor Who the hell knows 3 stars
9/13/98 Johny Good enough, not spectacular or anything though 4 stars
9/13/98 Jon The acting was great; the plot wasn't----Damon and Malkovich were amazing. 4 stars
9/13/98 Daniel Eskin John Turturro saved this from a sucks all ass! The acting and story were both horrid. 2 stars
9/13/98 Kimberly Finally, a film that understands! Poker is a life...and this is THE movie! 5 stars
8/29/98 Mister Whoopee Norton is better than Hoffman in Drugstore Cowboy. Damon's fine, but the movie is no GWH. 4 stars
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  11-Sep-1998 (R)
  DVD: 07-Sep-2004


  11-Feb-1999 (MA)

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