on January 20, 2003 by Annlee Ellingson
From “Happy, Texas” helmer Mark Illsley, this tale involves three college kids, obsessed with making bets on everything from their school football team to the next brand of beer ordered at the neighborhood bar, who decide to launch a bookie operation from their dorm room. The schemes they devise to maintain their anonymity are ingenious: Drops are made in the library's night drop box, of which one of them is in charge as part of his day job, and pickups are assigned to prearranged books no one ever checks out: philosophy, Plato, foreign-language. Also clever is the use of subtitles to explain to the audience the lingo used when taking bets, except in the case of parlays and teasers, which, the films says, are sucker bets that are too complicated to explain.

Though they vow to never take bets worth more than $500, the boys soon are reaping the benefits of their scheme, outfitting their dorm room with the latest electronics and driving fancy cars--behavior that draws the attention of the campus police and the professional bookies on whose turf they're treading. Of course, they take it too far, bribing school athletes to fix a game, only to be outbid, but predictably--and anticlimactically--they weasel out of it in the end and earn the admiration of their adversaries in the process. Aw.

It's a smart script that moves along at a fast clip, even if it does leave some loose ends untied, and has the presence of mind to punish these wrongdoers, if not too severely. Starring Nick Stahl, Lukas Haas, Johnny Galecki and Rachael Leigh Cook. Directed by Mark Illsley. Written by Michael Bacall. Produced by Alan Greenspan, Paul Greenstone and Sabine Mueller. No distributor set. Suspense drama. Not yet rated. Running time: 93 min.

Tags: gambling, Michael Bacall, Nick Stahl, Lukas Haas, Johnny Galecki, Rachael Leigh Cook, Mark Illsley

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