Poster

The Gambler is a genuinely bad movie. It’s not without good moments, but don’t listen to any liar who claims to enjoy this movie. Mark Wahlberg is an apathetic, half-hearted misanthrope who gambles to the point of excess—always extending his debt rather than paying it off. The timer on his self-destruction is coming dangerously close to detonation. It’s a matter of when, not a question of if.

I’m all for bad puns, but that’s only to make for of the idiots who use them honestly. Terrible and truly unfunny gambling puns are flooding reviews of The Gambler. I had to resist the violent urge to throw up after reading all the awful gambling references from critics reviewing this movie on Rotten Tomatoes.

Here’s a sampling from the highlight reel of hacks…

“It’s just like the Kenny Rogers song says: “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em.” It’s time for this “Gambler” to walk away.” — Peter Keough, Boston Globe

“The return is as miniscule as the stakes.” — Barbara VanDenburgh, Arizona Republic

“You can’t win with a weak hand.” — Susan Granger, SSG Syndicate

“A movie that displays a winning hand for much of its length should never turn up snake eyes at the end.” — Matt Brunson, Creative Loafing

“The hopeful ending comes off as too little, too late. Wahlberg gives the role his all, but sticking with him is a futile gesture. The Gambler never pays off. It’s a sucker’s bet.” — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

Personally, I aspire to avoid the apparent auto-pilot that these critics are cruising on with their shameless use of dreadful, uninspired bullshit. Save that shit for school papers that need clichéd fluff.

Getting back to the actual movie, The Gambler is a bad movie because there’s no emotional investment in the characters. The events that unfold are only that—there’s nothing beyond the superficial surface. You don’t care why something is happening, just that it is happening. And barely anything happens.

Hollywood needs to stop trying to convince me that Mark Wahlberg is smart. There is no way I can believe Mark Wahlberg as a teacher. It was one of my biggest issues when he played a high school science teacher in The Happening, which I would much rather watch again than this dullard of a turd.

In The Gambler, Mark Wahlberg plays a literature professor named Jim Bennett. Marky Mark Wahlberg as a fucking professor of the English language. Are you kidding me?

Professor Wahlberg

I like Mark Wahlberg. He has talent and charisma as an actor. However, his lines always sound and feel very stiff and rehearsed. Maybe it’s the Boston accent, but nothing about the man exudes intelligence. Throwing a pair of glasses on his face doesn’t magically transform him into a teacher.

Wahlberg perfectly plays dumb. Dumb is his wheelhouse. All of his best movie roles are dumb characters. If it’s within that comfort zone, he’ll kill the performance. Go watch Mark Wahlberg as porn star Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights. His stupidity is brilliant and his over-inflated sense of self-work is unbelievably spot-on. I don’t think I’ll ever see Mark Wahlberg put forth a better performance than in Boogie Nights.

To his credit, I don’t think Mark Wahlberg is afraid to go out of that aforementioned comfort zone. I hope he continues to challenge himself and grow as an actor, but a movie like The Gambler is a forgettable swing-and-miss. There’s almost no redeeming quality to take away from this movie.

Some solid performances from the supporting cast can’t dig this movie out of the hole it created. Brie Larson is fantastic as Amy—who serves as the love interest that sparks a desire for change in Jim Bennett’s life. If you’ve watched Short Term 12, then you know Brie Larson is capable of being a lead actress.

John Goodman

John Goodman isn’t in The Gambler long, but he makes his presence felt. Shaving his head did successfully make him seem more intimidating. Unfortunately, roughly 99.9% of his time on the screen is spent shirtless with only a towel. My eyes are forever scarred with that image. John Goodman’s arms are gross. Guzzling gallons of booze won’t get those flabby grandma arms out of my head.

For my money, Michael K. Williams is the best part of this movie as Neville Baraka. Michael K. Williams will never escape his iconic role as Omar in The Wire. And for good reason. It’s the greatest TV character on the greatest TV show ever made. With the scars to show, Michael K. Williams is believable as an unpredictable badass capable of committing unspeakable harm with a smile on his face.

There’s nothing special about the character of Neville Baraka, a ruthless loan shark. But I never knew what to expect when he was on the screen. Unfortunately, Michael K. Williams is yet again under-utilized in a movie. It’s disappointing, but I believe this man will have a breakthrough role in a film.

Much like Michael K. Williams, Jessica Lange is criminally underused. As the mother to Mark Wahlberg’s character, Jessica Lange is more than suitable playing uppity and heartbroken at the same time. The disconnected mother-son relationship is never explained in a satisfying fashion, which only makes Mark Wahlberg seem like even more of an insufferable child incapable of being happy.

If you somehow stick it through the 2-hour slog that is The Gambler, then I hope you laugh as heartily as I did at the ending. Granted, you’re not supposed to laugh, but that was my natural reaction. I understand that this is a remake of the 1974 film featuring James Caan, but the final sequence of The Gambler made me imagine it was written by Mark Wahlberg.  I swear I can hear Mark Wahlberg’s voice in my head…

“I’m just gonna fuckin’ run and run. Some people say you can’t outrun your troubles, but those people never met me. I’m so physically fit that I can outrun anything, anyone, anytime. We’ll just end it with me fuckin’ running and running. Streets, blocks, miles. I’m gonna fuckin’ run out of the whole fuckin’ city.

Fuck Forrest Gump. He’s a limp dick retard. I’ll run across the whole fuckin’ world. I’m a physical specimen. Did you see the end of Boogie Nights? That wasn’t no prosthetic. Thirteen inches of tough load, I don’t treat you gently. I’m a star, I’m a star, I’m a star. I am a big, bright, shining star.”

Good Things

1 out of 5 stars

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s