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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Cult Favorite....Highly Recommended !!!
The story of how this movie got made is almost as entertaining as the result. A talented pool player, Mars Callahan, wrote the script and sold it, much like Quentin Tarrantino and True Romance, but the script languished on the shelf for ten years. At this point, Callahan decided to take personal control and get the movie made. Somehow, he persuaded noted stars like Rod...
Published on August 3, 2006 by The Jaundiced Eye

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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor effort
I am a pool junkie myself, and this film, while somewhat entertaining just by the fact it deals with pool, falls well short of the mark. The story itself is very underdeveloped, and leaves alot of loose ends. There are a few clever exchanges of bravado and quips, but any pool player with a few years of experience will tell you that this stuff just doesn't happen. No one...
Published on June 8, 2004 by Michael Conroy


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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Cult Favorite....Highly Recommended !!!, August 3, 2006
This review is from: Poolhall Junkies (DVD)
The story of how this movie got made is almost as entertaining as the result. A talented pool player, Mars Callahan, wrote the script and sold it, much like Quentin Tarrantino and True Romance, but the script languished on the shelf for ten years. At this point, Callahan decided to take personal control and get the movie made. Somehow, he persuaded noted stars like Rod Steiger, Chazz Palminteri, Christopher Walken, etc. to appear in it, while he would assume the role of author, star, and director. How he accomplished this feat would be an excellent subject for a documentary film (like Overnight, but this time with a heroic principle character).

Mars Callahan has remarkable swagger and presence for a relative newcomer, especially in the company of such a distinguished cast. His personality and appearance remind me of a young Christopher Walken, and their scenes together are riveting.

Regardless of the history, the resulting movie is a bit uneven but overall very entertaining. The roles are cleverly written (possibly why noted actors were willing to play them) and very well portrayed. The pool shooting is first rate. Indeed, they accomplish the difficult task of making the pool games dramatic, original, and suspenseful. There is a lot of humor, very little violence (by today's standards), and no skin/sex. Instead, the movie relies on a generally excellent script and skillful characterization to thoroughly entertain rather than shock, nauseate, or deafen....an accomplishment that is becoming increasingly rare.

The weakness, in my opinion, is that the younger brother (Michael Rosenbaum) and his three pool-playing buddies are a little juvenile, with banter and antics reminiscent of American Graffiti or American Pie. This is out of character with the generally sophisticated overall tone, but was probably included to broaden the appeal of the movie to include a younger audience. It does not really damage the film, but simply dilutes it a bit....at least for me. A younger viewer may feel the opposite is true.

The bottom line: this is an amazing piece of work. Amazing for the fact that it ever got made....amazing for who appeared in it....and amazing for its overall quality. Even if you are not a great fan of pool, you will be knocked out by the superb dialog, plot, and performances of Mars, Rod, Christopher (an absolute genius), Chazz, and the gang. This is a gem !!!!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rack 'em and Smack 'em, March 31, 2004
By 
This review is from: Poolhall Junkies (DVD)
Gregory Mars Martin (Callahan), aka Mars Callahan, has given us a chunk of his heart, and great waves of youthful enthusiasm. Callahan, an accomplished pool player, and his hustler buddy Chris Corso, wrote this screenplay. It was shopped around for over ten years, and now it has emerged as a sterling Indie; something to aspire to. It was filmed in Salt Lake City, but little was made of that. It could have been any large city.
His directorial style is sideswipe close to that of Edward Burns; urban, hip, gritty, and intelligent. Hopefully Callahan has some other ideas, and he will follow up with new projects.
Callahan obviously loves movies, and he has given himself the lead part; Johnny Doyle. As it turns out, he is a gifted actor. Roger Ebert called him," McQueen cool.". Another critic, a cretin, called him," Vince Vaughn lite.". Ebert wrote further,
" This is a young man's film, humming with the joy of making it.".
One can't help but to notice when Callahan makes his first appearance on the screen that he does have a tall lanky hip young Christopher Walken persona. Brilliantly for the film, Walken himself was cast in the movie. In an early scene, when he and Walken share the frame, Walken said," I noticed you right away; the hair. Are we related ? " The movie is laden with other movie-lover's moments; tongue-in-cheek and over the top.
If a person likes to shoot pool, this film will be smoky eye candy. The cons, the chatter, the grifts, and the trick shots; all slip by smoothly. You can hear the echo in the pool room, and smell the chalk, the felt on the tables, and the cigar smoke. You hear those ceramic balls crash together in a macho symphony of staccato clanks; and what a lovely sound it is. Callahan in voice over in the preface, speaks of Johnny Doyle,
" The cue was part of his arm, and the balls had eyes. And he really believed that he couldn't miss.".
With Callahan in the lead, speaking his own written dialogue, one senses more immediacy, more reality in the pool hall scenes. As a director, he scored well, landing four heavy hitters in the casting; Walken as uncle Mike the millionaire, Chazz Palminteri as Joe the hustler, Rod Steiger as Nick the owner of the pool hall, and Rick Schroder as Brad the shark. Alison Eastwood was fine, as well, as Johnny's ladyfriend, Tara. This modest little film has all the grit, the validity, and the sting of THE HUSTLER, and in some subtle ways it scores higher than the Scorsese opus THE COLOR OF MONEY.
The plot, far from original ( a young man becomes a pool hustler, but learns to hate the con and yearns for the validation of turning professional), never the less is engaging in Callahan's capable hands. We can not help but care about Johnny Doyle. We want him to get his girlfriend back, and get revenge on the vicious hustler that ruined his life, working him like a pool whore, and then nearly breaking his left wrist in reprisal; and we want him to beat the daylights out of the stoic stud pro-ringer pool shark; and we want him to renew the faith that the pool hall owner has always had in him; and we want him to get his younger brother out of jail (Michael Rosenbaum), who got himself deep into a jam while trying to emulate Johnny.
Christopher Walken simply in a few brief scenes dominates the screen. He is more relaxed, more dynamic, and more focused in this role than he has been in years. He delivered one classic soliloquy that started with," Do you ever watch the Nature Channel ?". This speech will be a highlight for film buffs to review for the next millennium. He is one of a handful of actors, like Harvey Keitel, Tim Robbins, Steve Buscemi, Tim Roth, and Gary Oldman, that supports the notion that film truly is Art, and that Independent Films are the breath of life. For movie actors it used to be that only appearing on stage, doing live theatre in front of an audience, could produce that kick, that adrenilin rush. But now, it seems, that same high can be achieved when a star works cheap and takes chances in the celluloid world of the Indies.
Roger Ebert also wrote that this film was," enjoyably overwrought, and exuberantly stylish."; praise from Caesar. It certainly is worth a look. For me it ranks high in the short lexicon of billiard epics.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Watch this movie and your life will improve. No, really., April 23, 2007
This review is from: Poolhall Junkies (DVD)
If you dig the whole interaction of a well oiled machine-like crew of witty, bantering guys too young to yet be jaded but playing in grownup world then this is for you. I LOVED the back and forth in the dialogue between the buddies. And they're just the backdrop material. The conversations between everyone were just gutter poetry. Chazz and Christopher are right on the money with everything about themselves that I like to see in a movie. The lead character is in control even when he's OUT of control. There is a smooth flow to this flick that makes me think of the perfect Seven and Seven. Goes down easy and you're glad you ordered it. Had a nice seedy feel to it whenever the action was in the poolhalls. This film makes you wish you could hang out with these characters for just one night.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, even without a mega-star leading..., September 20, 2003
By 
Jim (Atlanta, GA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Poolhall Junkies (DVD)
I initially heard about this movie in a pool league newsletter I get, however, I could never find it, and it never came around to Atlanta. I accidently found it the other day, and after watching it last night, I must say I like it the most of the few pool-based movies I've seen. It's a well produced/edited film, but doesn't have the glitzy commercial feel of a mega blockbuster.
I liked the lead role played by Gregory Mars Martin (Callahan). I think it allowed me to focus a little more on the movie than on some mega star (read Cruise in Color of Money.. hated that one). Granted, his character didn't seem as deep as some of the others in the movie, I didn't think it detracted from the movie at all.
As for Rick Schroder, I agree with some of the other reviewers in saying he played the part of a cold, calculating (and quiet) hustler very well. He's made great in-roads into drama from his beginnings and hope to see more serious roles from him.
The other actors also helped move this movie along. Walken is in his typical supporting role (a little more of him would have been nice, though, given the sometimes dark mood of the movie).
Being an avid pool player myself, I enjoyed the scenes of the hustling (verbal and table play), and the trick shots. However, there was footage of some shots re-used a few times throughout the movie. And I didn't like the way it portrayed everyone as needing to drill every shot (minor nitpick).
In the end, I'd recommend this to anyone looking for a good pool/hustler movie.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the best, but definetly not the worst., September 18, 2004
This review is from: Poolhall Junkies (DVD)
Ive played pool for a long time. Ive watched hustlers, ive learned some of their tricks. Callahan is a real life hustler. Alot of people dont know this, but he was trying to hustle co-author, Chris Corso, who in turn was trying to hustle him. Thats how they first met, and they became friends shortly afterwords, wrote pool hall junkies, and rushed it out. Their rush on the script does show. Theres no real thrilling plot, its just more of an inside look at a hustlers life. Not only are famous actors in it, but the man who played St. Louis Louie is Mike Massey. True pool fanatics allready know who he is, and thoose who dont know might be interested in looking him up. Most of the shots were either made by him or Callahan. Christopher Walken made that shot 100% by himself. In fact it was a just a rehearsal for that shot, but he told them to have the cameras ready just in case. Thats the amount of effort that all of the actors put into this movie, and that shows too. It is an excellent move for its budget, but for thoose of you who dont much care for pool, I wouldnt touch this movie, you wont appreciate it. For thoose of you who love playing pool, or just like to hustle people, this movie is as good as The Hustler. If anything, at least rent it to watch Walkens speech in the bathroom about how sometimes, when it seems people have forgotten, you have to show everyone that you are known as the best for a good reason. This movie made me jump, yell, laugh, and grit my teeth. My advice is, watch it during the beginning of the day, and get everything ready to shoot pool afterwards, because this movie is so energetic that you will have to play pool, no matter what your skill level is.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars pool magic, December 4, 2013
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This review is from: Poolhall Junkies (DVD)
cool old school classic with great pool shots, plenty of heart, and I don't like christopher walken. that said, he doesn't derail the film, though he nearly does. there are some great things about this movie, plus the color of money can't be the only newer pool film. stickmen was nearly unwatchable, so out of control and snatch-like in it's whacky camera shots. this is a straight ahead film. what's cool is the older brother wrote it, in the time it took to get the script to film, he became the older brother! fun fact. this was an entertaining film. they let chris walken be himself, so if you like him, drink up, lol.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The way it really is, July 10, 2013
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This review is from: Poolhall Junkies (DVD)
Of all the movies I have watched on the topic of pool hustling this movie is the closest to the way it is (or at least the way it was for me as a player).
We first all agree the movie THE.HUSTLER is an outstanding movie.The Color of Money was also very entertaining but not the same level as films go. This movie isnt trying to be another version of these classics. The plot is different with a very good script and the most realistic (I know there were many set up shots as in all pool movies. However, if you a high level player you can see that Mars Callahan was, is a fine playerwith a nice stroke and is very comfortable on the table. The.same for Jackie.Gleason in the Hustler.
Why is this a fine movie?
The script was real . This.man I.would bet lived the game. He also made great use of his/their limited number of sets without using a lot of gimmicky editing. The cast was.terrific. Im surprised.a movie at this budget level could get Chaz P. ,Rod Steiger and Christopher Walken . Im sure they liked the script.and short.shooting schedule. Mars Callahan is a great talent in all three areas in the making of this film. Acting , writing and directing. I dont know why we havent seen more of him in any of these areas.
What I especially liked was Mars knows players know other.players level very quickly and there is no great hustle. At.least on the table. The real hustling is between people living life and not only playing the game.
The story line is interesting .People making choices. There is some humor, no over the top acting and nice camera work .
Its really a movie that shouldnt be missed if you enjoy this.genre .
I would like to see more of Mars.C. work.. His.work seemed to be multi dimensional and I would like to see more as a writer or director.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great character development, July 7, 2013
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This review is from: Poolhall Junkies (DVD)
If you like to shoot pool, even a little bit, you will love this indie type movie even more. Fun ride with sharks and wannabes, a few nice shots and great acting from the stars. When did this Christopher Walken Version 2.0 arrive?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No surprises here. But I did enjoy this film., June 22, 2012
This review is from: Poolhall Junkies (DVD)
This 2002 film is certainly not a great movie. It has all the clichés in the world about the game of pool. The acting is just about average and the lead actor, Mars Callahan, doesn't have the sleazy appearance that this film dictates. Also, he has an upscale girlfriend and this just doesn't seem real. That said, I did enjoy the film. Yes. There were no surprises/. And yes, this film stayed true to its formula. But I found it just recreational enough for my tastes. And I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This movie rocks!!!, March 8, 2007
This review is from: Poolhall Junkies (DVD)
This is great movie about pool hustlers and scumbags. I liked it. I think you will like it. If you like this one, check out Double Down. There are a lot of the same characters, and actually that is the better of the two movies.
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Poolhall Junkies
Poolhall Junkies by Mars Callahan (DVD - 2003)
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