Uni student Alex (Bret Harrison) dreams of becoming a pro Texas Hold'em poker player and a chance encounter with retired poker legend, Tommy (Burt Reynolds) gives him the opportunity. Tommy sees he can regain his self confidence and pride by turning Alex into his protégé. But their growing success is thwarted by a Las Vegas call girl (Shannon Elizabeth) and eventually they part ways, each separately preparing for the World Poker Tour, where only one of them can become the champ.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Burt Reynolds is always watchable, even after plastic surgery. Poker is always a macho sort of game (even for women players) in which poker face is a paramount virtue. So poker movies are a genre apart, and Deal is as good as any. Better than some.
Not an original storyline in sight (retired champ mentors youngster to gain reflected glory and face down demons) but entertaining all the same. And a really likeable cast makes it work better than it deserves to.
Like old cowboys facing off, poker players need plenty of cool, and give filmmakers opportunities for a series of close ups of eyes looking ... er, unexpressive. But that's the fun, picking which dead-eyed dick is actually winning or losing the million dollar hand.
There is a chance that non-players will find even the relationship stories too little to compensate for the poker games, but I think Jennifer Tilley (in a small role) and the rest of cast are worth screen time. But than poker is not just a game of cards; it's not the cards you play but the people, as Tommy explains to Alex, which is why poker movies are far more interesting than many sports movies.
It's about character and personality, humanity at its most exposed, while trying to cover up. So look beyond the hand ...
Published April 30, 2009
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DEAL: DVD (M)
CAST: Burt Reynolds, Bret Harrison, Shannon Elizabeth, Charles Durning, Jennifer Tilly, Vince Van Patten, Mike Sexton, Gary Grubbs, Maria Mason, Brandon Olive, Courtney Friel
PRODUCER: Michael Arata, Steve Austin, Marc Weinstock
DIRECTOR: Gil Cates jr
SCRIPT: Gil Cates jr, Marc Weinstock
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tom Harting
EDITOR: Jonathan Cates, Eric Strand
MUSIC: Peter Rafelson
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Frank Zito
RUNNING TIME: 82 minutes
PRESENTATION: 16:9; DD 5.1
SPECIAL FEATURES: Behind the scenes
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Anchor Bay
DVD RELEASE: August 2008
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.