Gambling is all about drama. That is why many filmmakers have utilized this activity as a tool that adds suspense to their stories. While everyone associates this pastime on the big screen with cinematic classics like Rain Man and Casino, it is a fact that gambling has also served as a plot device for many films that have missed the mark.
Playing games of chance is a hobby that enjoys a great deal of popularity worldwide. Nowadays, classic gaming products mainly get played at a regular or crypto casino online by risk-inclined enthusiasts who want to see if they are in Lady Luck’s good graces. However, no movies about internet gambling have caused any ripples, positive or negative, with moviegoers. Nor do many such titles exist. Thus, for our list of films that failed to impress at the box office and captivate audiences, we will stick to discussing ones where gambling occurs on casino floors.
In the 1990s, Larry David’s main claim to fame was co-creating, Seinfeld. In the 2000s, he managed to distance himself from the legendary sitcom by developing his hit show, Curb Your Enthusiasm, which still airs on HBO. Most now associate David with the Curb series, which relies on improvisational humor. However, what many are not aware, is that in 1998, David directed a feature film. Sour Grapes, released by Columbia Pictures, starring Steven Weber and Craig Bierko, was a 100% Larry David product that did not make any impact, and David now admits he feels ashamed for making it.
The plot of Sour Grapes revolves around cousins Evan (Webber) and Richie (Bierko) that take a trip to Atlantic City with their significant others. When at a casino floor, playing slots, Richie is down to his last quarter and asks his cousin Evan for some spare change. One of the two coins he receives from Evan leads to a jackpot of $400,000. Once Richie reveals that he only plans to share a small percentage of his winnings with Evan, a bitter feud erupts between the two.
Honeymoon in Vegas
These days, many view Nicholas Cage as an oddity of an actor. An eccentric that annually stars in multiple lower-budget movies. However, things were not always so. A decade ago, Francis Ford Coppola’s nephew was a massive movie star, appearing in many critically and financially successful movies. Unfortunately, in 1992, that was not the case when he chose to share the screen with James Caan and Sarah Jessica Parker.
Honeymoon in Vegas is a road trip movie in disguise where Nicholas Cage plays Jack Singer, one part of a seemingly happy couple off to Vegas for a Shotgun wedding. Yet, once he arrives there with his would-be wife Betsy (Sarah Jessica Parker), she catches the eye of a professional gambler, Tommy Korman, played by James Cann. Cann’s character then fabricates a plan on how to steal Betsy from Jack. Honeymoon in Vegas made some money but did not wow anyone.
Will Ferrell is likely the Saturday Night Live cast member who most successfully transitioned over to Hollywood. The California-born actor began his silver screen ascension in the early 2000s, appearing in multiple hits like Elf, Old School, and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. In the past few years, his star has not shined as bright concerning ticket sales.
In 2017, Ferrell showed up alongside Tina Fey in the lackluster comedy title The House, about a suburban couple that decides to run an illegal gambling establishment out of their friend’s house. They do so to pay for her daughter’s college education. Filmed in 2015 and released two years later, The House was a financial flop and received mainly negative reviews from critics.
Lookin’ to Get Out
Burt Young is a character actor that gets best remembered for playing Paulie in the Rocky series. He has over one hundred and sixty credits to his name but few starring roles. Lookin’ to Get Out is a 1982 feature directed by Hal Ashby where Young gets almost equal screen time as Jon Voight and Ann-Margret. The movie revolves around Alex Kovac (Voight), a New York poker player who loses $10,000 to a pair of gamblers, which he cannot payback. He then persuades his friend Jerry (Young) to come to him with Vegas and assume the role of an established Vegas gambler with whom he shares his first and last name. The plan leads to Jerry getting comped $10,000 by a casino. A series of wacky events ensues.
Lookin’ to Get Out was a highly anticipated comedy from Paramount Pictures. It came out three years after Hal Ashby’s most successful film, Being There, starring Peter Sellers. Thus, everyone was waiting to see what he would come up with next. Sadly, Lookin’ to Get Out proved to be a weak entry in Ashby’s thirteen title feature film catalog. It did not even manage to gross a million dollars on a budget of $17 million.
The 1960’s Ocean’s Eleven is an ever-green. Few that are a fan of that era can resist it. It starred five Rat Pack members, mixing in laughs, tension, and drama in one tightly-wrapped package. Thus, when news broke in the late 1990s that a remake was in the works, it got everyone super excited. The eventual re-imagining of this casino heist tale hit theaters in 2001, boasting an all-star cast. Its poster proudly featured the names of Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Andy Garcia, Julia Roberts, and many others. Under the direction of Steven Soderbergh, this remake proved a massive hit, garnering critical praise and pulling in $450 million at the global box office.
Now, when it came time to repeat the magic generated by the 2000 film, Steven Soderbergh failed emphatically. He set the sequel in Europe and pitted the captivating team of criminals against a wealthy French baron played by Vincent Cassel. The film is an exercise in overindulgence, as it incorporates multiple film techniques that mainstream movie viewers found distracting. Ocean’s Twelve moved away from the casino-oriented feel of its predecessor and failed to deliver similar excitement levels, and in all honesty, a coherent plot. It also does not feature that many mentions of casinos or gambling.