A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this crime drama revolves around gambling -- those addicted to it, those who enable it, and those who profit from it. The characters lie or act desperately for the sake of a big score or making good on a bad debt. Unpaid bookies and their goons beat men up and even have them killed. There are several violent scenes, especially in the last half hour; characters are shot, poisoned, and more. Plenty of swearing (particularly "f--k") and drinking, and some sex (nothing too graphic, though a sexualized 13-year-old character gets a nipple ring). On the one plus side, the film makes gambling addiction look every bit as serious as drug or alcohol addiction.
What's the story?
Clyde Snow (Forest Whitaker, who made this indie drama before he was an Academy Award winner), is a down-on-his-luck handyman who desperately asks his college hoops star brother Godfrey (Nick Cannon) to shave points in big games so Clyde can pay back some aggressive bookies (Jay Mohr and Grant Sullivan). Carolyn Carver (Kim Basinger), is an esteemed novelist who squanders her teenage daughter's college fund at the slots instead of writing her new book. Unable to shake her habit, Carolyn befriends and becomes in awe of Walter, a has-been casino magician played by Danny DeVito channeling Ricky Jay. DeVito and Carolyn's relationship borders on the romantic after he becomes her lucky charm at blackjack. Eventually the individual story arcs come together in a climactic basketball game that will determine the life and death of various characters, including Victor (an overacted caricature of bloodlust and greed played by the master of such roles, Tim Roth), the megalomaniacal bookie who's been harassing nearly every person in the film.
Is it any good?
EVEN MONEY is an underwhelming multiple-storyline drama a la Crash or an Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu film. Here, instead of human tragedy connecting all the characters, the glue is gambling. None of the characters gets a winning hand, of course, but with such flat characterizations (with the exception of Clyde and Godfrey), nobody's worthy of viewers' empathy anyway.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the consequences of addiction. Do you consider gambling to be as serious an addiction as one to drugs or alcohol? Why or why not? In most movies, gambling is depicted as glamorous and fun; how is it portrayed here? Which do you think is more realistic?
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