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The Grand

Why does The Grand suck so much, while other poker movies merely make you want to pluck your eyes out? Mainly it’s a concentration of faults: Like Lucky You, it takes bright, speedy actors—the biggest casualties being Woody Harrelson as a drugged-out casino scion and Cheryl Hines as a tough-talking champ—and neutralizes their comedic charms. Like Rounders or even Casino Royale, it complicates Hold ’Em’s essential strategic appeal via boneheaded plays. And sorry, but unless your fancy is global thermonuclear war and your movie WarGames, most table contests are simply a drag to watch on the big screen. (Passing the time on TV: another story.)
Ah, but we haven’t even gotten to the smug Brett Ratner cameo. Or the way The Grand apes that talk-to-the-camera mockumentary format that was already getting tired for Christopher Guest five years ago. According to press notes, the film was largely improvised, with the outcomes of several hands affecting the plot. Naturally, this tactic doesn’t bode well for a smartly constructed narrative (a short comedic skit, maybe). Only the tart presence of Teutonic terror Werner Herzog, playing a mysterious gambler called “the German,” earns this movie a modicum of interest; the way he randomly calls coffee “a beverage of cowards” raises the stakes momentarily.

Release details

Rated: R
Release date: Friday March 21 2008
Duration: 104 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Zak Penn
Screenwriter: Mark Bierman
Cast: Woody Harrelson
Cheryl Hines
David Cross
Chris Parnell
Mike Epps
Judy Greer
Werner Herzog
Gabe Kaplan
Shannon Elizabeth
Estelle Harris
Michael McKean
Michael Karnow
Richard Kind
Ray Romano
Andrea Savage
Jason Alexander
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