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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars IT'S JUST A HOOK
Beth(Rebecca Hall) is a woman who aspires to be a cocktail waitress in Vegas. She has both brains and looks. She ends up working for Dink, a bookie (Bruce Willis) who she develops feelings. Dink has a jealous wife Tulip (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and a bad side when he loses, which causes Beth to get a job elsewhere. Beth eventually gets into trouble and needs help...
Published 22 months ago by The Movie Guy

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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as I thought it'd be...
The girl playing the lead gets on your nerves, since she seems like she's on hyperspeed all of the time. Did Catherine Zeta Jones get a major face lift? And of course Vince Vaugn is in it, he's very funny. I liked seeing him and Bruce, they were great. But I expected more, in general. It was like watching squirrels run around in those little wheels things....I should have...
Published on November 10, 2012 by Amy Duluth


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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as I thought it'd be..., November 10, 2012
By 
Amy Duluth "Shopper" (San Francisco, California) - See all my reviews
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The girl playing the lead gets on your nerves, since she seems like she's on hyperspeed all of the time. Did Catherine Zeta Jones get a major face lift? And of course Vince Vaugn is in it, he's very funny. I liked seeing him and Bruce, they were great. But I expected more, in general. It was like watching squirrels run around in those little wheels things....I should have waited until it was ALOT cheaper, like in Prime....buyer beware--
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Really really lame, November 11, 2012
By 
Keith Wire (Newark, Ohio United States) - See all my reviews
Such an established cast and yet failed on every level. Really disappointed that I spent ten dollars to watch this dud.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars IT'S JUST A HOOK, March 31, 2013
This review is from: Lay the Favorite (DVD)
Beth(Rebecca Hall) is a woman who aspires to be a cocktail waitress in Vegas. She has both brains and looks. She ends up working for Dink, a bookie (Bruce Willis) who she develops feelings. Dink has a jealous wife Tulip (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and a bad side when he loses, which causes Beth to get a job elsewhere. Beth eventually gets into trouble and needs help.

The film is based on a true story, so you didn't know where it is headed. The downfall of the film is that it has a narrow appeal. It is basically a modified chick flick. But it is for chicks who know something about book making. The phrase "lay the favorite" means betting against the favorite, i.e. you always take the points and the underdog, you never give points. Bookies make their money by having a balanced book. They need the same amount of money bet on a team as they do against it. They make their money from taking "the juice" which is a percentage of the winnings. If the juice is 10% and you bet $50 even money, you will net $40 in return. In order to balance their books, they will have to move money around and make bets with other books or alter the point spread. The point spread has more to do balancing the books then it does the ability of the teams involved which is why it sometimes changes from the beginning of the week to the end of the week. This allows a smart better to straddle his bet. The key to book making is to do the math and bet with your head, not your heart.

It is not an inside look at the gambling industry per se, but it gives you enough of a glimpse that you feel you need to know what is going on in order to enjoy the movie. The most unbelievable aspect of the film is that with all the money Dirk and his wife had, she drank Beefeaters Gin. I enjoyed Bruce Willis in this role. Rebecca Hall was refreshing. A light chick flick for people who know something about gambling.

Parental Guide: F-bomb, nudity (Jo Newman, Laura Prepon - Donna from "That 70's Show")
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Complete Tonal Misfire Despite An Interesting Cast And A Once Great Director, March 1, 2013
This review is from: Lay the Favorite [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
It wasn't exactly easy to make it to the end of the tone deaf comedy "Lay The Favorite." When I got there, though, I was in for a huge shock. The credits rolled and I realized that Stephen Frears was responsible for directing this! In case you haven't heard of him, the Oscar nominee has orchestrated some truly great films including The Queen, The Grifters, and Dangerous Liaisons. Well nothing could be further from these excellent films than this flight of fancy. Based on a true story, an expose on the world of gambling by Beth Raymer, the plot had the potential to be absolutely fascinating. In fact, I'd love to read Raymer's memoir. I think it would be very enlightening. But instead of a hard hitting drama, Frears has removed any sense of reality from the picture. I don't care that he wanted to make something light and comedic, but this isn't serious enough for a drama, funny enough for a comedy, informative enough for gambling enthusiasts, or rich enough in character so that anyone might actually care about what happens. In short, the movie has no idea what it wants to be and that is very apparent.

Rebecca Hall plays the central character as a chirpy stripper who is simultaneously brilliant and clueless. She dreams of the big time, she wants to be a waitress in Las Vegas! She gets involved, instead, with an odds-maker played by Bruce Willis. She's a natural at the game and soon becomes invaluable to the operation. Willis's wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) doesn't like the closeness between the two and this causes much friction. As Hall sets out on her own, she gets into some trouble from which she may not be able to extricate herself. Hint: It involves Vince Vaughn. It just might require a little help from her friends and a caper is afoot. And boy, there's no stopping this crew when they are joined!

One of my biggest issues with "Lay The Favorite" is that it is all over the map in tone. And none of it really works, nothing is developed in enough depth to get you involved. Even the gambling aspect of the picture is lackluster and pedestrian. I never cared about anything that happened. Willis seems to be sleepwalking, Hall is positively grating, and everyone else is pretty much wasted. Hall has a love affair with Joshua Jackson, but we never know the first thing about him. The character development is so sketchy as to be virtually non-existent. A few of the smaller roles scored and Zeta-Jones has presence. The experience, for me, had no real laughs, no real danger, no real romance. I've certainly been a fan of Frears, Willis and Zeta-Jones in other projects. Here, though, I'm hard pressed to tell you anything that I like about this misguided effort. About 1 1/2 stars, I'm not sure why I'm rounding up. KGHarris, 3/13.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Uninspiring and not a film I would expect from filmmaker Stephen Frears..., March 30, 2013
This review is from: Lay the Favorite [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Director Stephen Frears ("The Queen", "High Fidelity", "Dangerous Liaisons") and screenwriter D.V. DeVincentis ("High Fidelity", "Grosse Point Blank") are back together again for a new film based on the memoirs of American writer and journalist Beth Raymer, a memoir about her experiences in the sex industry, amateur boxing and sports betting.

The film would feature an all-star cast starring Bruce Willis ("Die Hard" films, "The Sixth Sense", "The Fifth Element"), Catherine Zeta-Jones ("Chicago", "The Terminal", "Entrapment"), Vince Vaughn ("Wedding Crashers", "Mr. and Mrs. Smith", "The Break-Up"), Rebecca Hall ("The Prestige", "Frost/Nixon", "The Town"), Joshua Jackson ("Fringe", "Dawson's Creek", "The Skulls"), Laura Prepon ("That 70′s Show", "October Road", "Are You There, Chelsea?") and Corbin Bernsen ("L.A. Law", "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang", "Psych").

VIDEO:

"Lay the Favorite" is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1). For the most part, picture quality for the film is very good. Colors are vibrant and really look good outdoors. Really good detail when it comes to closeups and colors black levels are nice and deep. I didn't notice any problems with the overall picture quality, no aliasing or artifacts.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

"Lay the Favorite" is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA. The film is primarily all dialogue driven and dialogue is crisp and clear. Not a film where you would hear a lot of surround usage but you do hear a bit of the ambiance come into play during the film. But for a film like this, the lossless soundtrack was appropriate.

Subtitles are in Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

"Lay the Favorite" come with the following special features:

Deleted Scenes - (7:41) A total of 11 deleted scenes.

JUDGMENT CALL:

"Lay the Favorite" may have been a fascinating memoir to read but as a film, I feel that the film tried to incorporate comedy but also be a bit deep at the same time but it just doesn't work.

The primary character of Beth Raymer comes off in the film as a girl who loves her job of pleasing men as an in-home stripper, showing her body and getting what she wants but trying to make money and survive. When compared to the original memoir, there is a much better story as Beth is trying to balance life at Florida State University and to pay her way through college life, she becomes a stripper. But because of her not being satisfied or she was fired from these jobs, that's the reason why she moved to Las Vegas.

I really don't know if the real Beth Raymer was anything like the film version of Beth Raymer but the film's first half hour tries to feature Beth as a naive sex kitten that who is a stripper, tries to have sexual relations with her boss and fidns a guy at a casino and has sex with him immediately after they met.

While the film tries to focus on high-stakes gambling, you're left thinking..."really?". Not to say that Rebecca Hall's portrayal of Beth Raymer makes her out like an "airhead" but perhaps instead of focusing on the sexy side of Beth Raymer, at the beginning of the film, there should have been some glimpse of her brilliance with numbers that is later mentioned in the film. That Beth is actually a smart young woman, not just some kind of vamp. Also, unless you have an interest in sports-gambling, the film is really lacking in structure and not that entertaining.

Of course, we eventually see Beth grow in the ranks of high-stake gambling when she moves to New York City and starts to make money for herself. But by then, I'm wondering to myself, is this really a Stephen Frears film? And what an unlikely film to find Bruce Willis and Catherine Zeta-Jones in. But do give the film some credit in the fact that Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Joshua Jackson and Vince Vaughn made "Lay the Favorite" much more of an enjoyable film because they appeared in it.

The Blu-ray release does feature very good PQ and for dialogue-driven film, lossless audio was also good. And for special features, you get eleven deleted scenes.

Overall, "Lay the Favorite" was a film that may have featured a talented director and also featured a cast of big names but unfortunately, with an uninspired screenplay, the characters weren't fully utilized and the film just lacks anything of interest unlike the original memoir that the film was based on. Probably worth a rental but nothing more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Big Budget B-Movie Worthy Of A Look, February 17, 2013
This review is from: Lay the Favorite (DVD)
Up front you need to know that Vince Vaughn and Bruce Willis are two of my favorite guys to see on the big screen. After reading the horrible reviews of this movie I just had to see it, and I'm not disappointed that I did.

It is true that this is not exactly a polished movie. It screams B-Movie production, even though it is estimated that they spent $26 MILLION on production. According to IMDB it grossed just about $20,000 in the USA. A bad bet, no doubt about it, but that doesn't mean it's not a fun movie to watch.

The story seems so far fetched, you'll wonder who came up with it. Crazy enough, it is based upon a book by Beth Raymer Lay the Favorite: A Story About Gamblers which is supposedly based on her own experiences.

The story revolves around Beth, who moves to Vegas to find herself. She ends up working for a professional gambler, Dink, played by Bruce Willis. They have a falling out, she hooks up with this pal Rosie, played by Vince Vaughn, who is a bookie in New York. Somewhere in there she meets nice guy Jeremy, played by Joshua Jackson, whom she dates. She's infatuated with Dink, but he is already married to Tulip, yes, Tulip, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Maybe it was because I had such low hopes going in, but I enjoyed the movie. It's not going to win any awards and none of the actors brought the best performances of their careers, but for some light entertainment it's a pretty good B-Movie.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Can't Say Anything Good, November 8, 2012
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I was expecting more from this movie, but it never moved along into anything close to interesting. Character development was weak, plot was contrived, and the main character, Beth, was not one bit believable. The actress did a good job, but the writing was awful and sunk the ship. Ugh.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I wish I had two more hands to give this movie four thumbs down., November 27, 2012
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The book is 5 stars but the movie doesn't come close. Read the book before the movie. So much potential from the book but the movie just doesn't compare.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dull Gamblers Movie, March 15, 2013
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Dull movie. No wonder it went to video. Zeta-Jones was hot to look at but they don't use her on camera much. She played a great character as a gamblers pampered wife, but the rest stunk.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What a Waste of Great Talents, October 11, 2013
By 
Tsuyoshi (Kyoto, Japan) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lay the Favorite (DVD)
Having finished watching Stephen Frears' "Lay the Favorite," I am still unsure what to make of this "true story" based on Beth Raymer's memoir of her experiences in the sports-betting industry in Las Vegas. The film has one interesting subject matter, to be sure, and benefits from the fine performance from Rebecca Hall as the spirited heroine, but with its unfocused and disjointed narrative "Lay the Favorite" simply doesn't know what it is doing.

An in-home exotic dancer Beth travels from Florida to Las Vegas, dreaming of becoming a cocktail waitress at a casino. As luck would have it, she gets a job working for a bookie Dink Heimowitz (Bruce Willis). Beth, who is good with numbers, becomes a sort of good luck charm for Dink and even gets romantically involved with him before his wife Tulip (Catherine Zeta-Jones) comes back and interferes.

The story may sound interesting. Actually, it is not, jumping from one scene to the next without developing any of the characters. In "Lay the Favorite" you will never know anything about the betting industry. That itself is not a big problem if the film allows us to know the characters. Beth meets characters played by Corbin Bernsen, Frank Grillo, Joshua Jackson, John Carroll Lynch, Laura Prepon and Vince Vaughn. The impressive cast does their best, but frankly, we really don't care what happen to these uninteresting cyphers.

The only exception to the mediocre writing is the film's protagonist Beth, who, thanks to Rebecca Hall, remains attractive even when her character is not really credible. Despite her effective acting, "Lay the Favorite" seems trying not to entertain us, by omitting or blurring critical points of her story that should be more interesting.
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Lay the Favorite [Blu-ray]
Lay the Favorite [Blu-ray] by Stephen Frears (Blu-ray - 2013)
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