Hot shot poker player Huck Cheaver (Eric Bana) struggles to raise the $10,000 needed to get into the World Series of poker. His chances seem slim when his world champion father returns to town and cleans him out. Luckily, he meets aspiring singer Drew Barrymore, who puts a few things into perspective and teaches Huck a few life lessons. A deal with a loan shark gets him into the final and Huck has finally has the chance to prove himself to his father.
Eric Bana's series of hollywood mis-steps continues with this dull poker-drama from 2007. As usual, you can see the thinking behind his unfortunate choice - written by Eric Roth (Forrest Gump, Ali, Munich, The Good Shepherd) and directed by LA Confidentail man Curtis Hanson. Unfortunately Hanson's reputation is one of inconsistency, having followed LA Confidentilal with a series of not unsuccessful left-turns - the excellent Wonderboys, then 8 Mile, then In Her Shoes. What's the comon demonimator here?
You've seen this movie a million times before - Rocky, Karate Kid, Color Of Money - but with poker the subject matter is so dull that a near-constant stream of exposition is needed to let the viewer know what's happening. "Two Kings? Huck's going to need a Jack or better to win this one!". Hanson's already covered this story in the excellent 8 Mile, and without the captivating double act of Tom Cruise and Paul Newman in Color of Money, or the flashy direction of Casino, this is just another dull Vegas drama.
Robert Duvall is the wise old man who teaches his distant son a thing or two - the hard way. Drew Barrymore delivers a fairly typical sub-par performance, telling Bana the cold hard truth and making him look inside himself. Unfortunately on this occasion he doesn't find a green giant.