The Gambler is definitely not a good movie, but for me it was a perfect way to spend New Year’s day. It was total escapism. There are parts that are hard to believe and it borders on depressing, but it does have its moments of excitement, especially when the gambler bets big – suicidally big.
By day Jim Bennett is an associate professor of literature who likes to berate his students by reminding them that none have the genius to be great writers. By night he gambles.The problem is that Jim bets big, has run out of money and continues to gamble on borrowed money. He owes the casino owner and two loan sharks (one of whom is a very scary, very large John Goodman). If he can’t repay his debt they’ll kill him – something it seems Jim desperately wants.
Jim was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and I kept wondering why he was so miserable and why he seemed hell bent on trying to get himself murdered. The whole premise is beyond belief. Is he depressed because the novel he wrote wasn’t a success or is he just looking for love? Bottom line: if you leave your common sense home you can escape into The Gambler and enjoy it for what it is – a showcase for Mark Walhlberg’s coolness and John Goodman’s (literal and figurative) larger than life performance. LAR
Running time: 111 minutes