Not many poker movies can live up to Rounders. Some have tried and despite incredible efforts to portray accurate poker action and poker player’s lives, didn’t live up to expectations. Lucky You was that movie. Even The Deal starring Burt Reynolds was hyped to be a great poker movie but still has yet to see the light of day in theaters or on DVD.
The Grand may be different. Not only does it not take itself too seriously, as it is an improvisational comedy, but many of its stars are poker enthusiasts and know enough about the game to bring that passion to their roles.
According to the official movie website, The Grand was made in the tradition of comedies like Best In Show and This Is Spinal Tap. The film’s story is set in the world of professional poker and follows the lives of six players who reach the final table of the world’s second most famous high stakes tournament, the Grand Championship of Poker. The fake documentary style film is said to have been done with so much improvisation that it wasn’t sure who was going to win the movie’s tournament until filming began.
The film was written by Zak Penn and Matt Bierman, who also took part in its production. It has been shown at the Tribeca Film Festival and the Cinevegas Film Festival, and it will be distributed in theaters nationwide by Anchor Bay Entertainment in March of 2008.
Woody Harrelson is the lead actor in The Grand, who plays One Eyed Jack, a gambling junkie and serial monogamist who has been married approximately 74 times. The entire cast is an all-star one, including David Cross, Dennis Farina, Cheryl Hines, Richard Kind, Chris Parnell, Ray Romano, Hank Azaria, Shannon Elizabeth, and Gabe Kaplan. Professional poker players like Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, and Phil Hellmuth were also recruited to make cameo appearances in the tournament portions of the film.
Reviews of the film range from positive to negative, but not many members of the poker community have seen The Grand yet. While the premise seems interesting and has the potential to be very funny to those who understand the inner workings of the tournament poker world, it remains to be seen how it will fare in theaters.
Several clips from the film can be seen at www.TheGrandTheMovie.com, and look for it in theaters in March.