Parents' Guide to

The Gambler

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Uneven remake makes gambling look dangerous, alluring.

Movie R 2014 111 minutes
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THE GAMBLER is yet another Hollywood remake, and, as usual, it's not as good as the original. In this case, that would be the superior The Gambler (1974), which was directed by Karel Reisz, written by James Toback, and starred James Caan. That movie captured a moment, while the remake merely copies one. Still, taking the new movie all by itself, it does have a certain kind of resonance. And, like the original, it also has something to say about the human condition.

Wahlberg is mesmerizing in the lead role, reckless and assured but helplessly drawn to underworld life -- and at the same time confronting his students with harsh realities about writing. Writer William Monahan (The Departed) crafts a script full of stylized dialogue, giving actors like John Goodman snappy stuff to chew on. And director Rupert Wyatt plunges his characters into a slick-sleazy vision of a gambler's world. In a way, it's more alluring and less profound than the original, but enough of a cautionary tale that it's still worth a look.

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