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by Garon Cockrell
Lay The Favorite DVD Review
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Feb. 20, 2013 12:01 a.m.

















Lay The Favorite is a film ostensibly about gambling in Las Vegas

(and New York), but is really about relationships and about a young woman finding

her place in the world. And while it takes a while to find its footing, the

film ultimately succeeds in drawing us in and making us care about its

characters. It stars Bruce Willis, Rebecca Hall, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Joshua

Jackson and Vince Vaughn, and was directed by Stephen Frears, who also directed The Grifters, The Snapper,

High Fidelity, and The Queen.








Beth (Rebecca Hall), a

stripper in Florida, feels a need to change her life after a client pulls a gun

on her. She decides to move to Las Vegas and become a cocktail waitress (is

that really much of a change?). After asking one random person how to get a job

as a cocktail waitress, she gives up on her dream. But two girls that she is

suddenly friends with recommend she see Dink (Bruce Willis), a professional

gambler. He hires her, though she clearly knows nothing about gambling. But she

is good with numbers. The problem for us as viewers is it’s all pretty easy for

her - she just sort of falls into this.








Beth develops a crush on

Dink, and though he is a married man, she aggressively flirts with him. His

wife Tulip (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is something of a mess, but she’s gorgeous. This

is a different role for Catherine Zeta-Zones, and she does a good job with it.








Dink fires Beth because

Tulip says she’s coming between them. One thing I love about this film is that

Dink and Tulip really love each other.  I

like that this doesn’t become a film about him falling for Beth and planning on

dumping his wife – we’ve seen that too many times.








That are a lot of good scenes, though they seem a bit

rushed, a bit short, particularly in the first half of the film. For example, I

want more of the scene between Dink and Tulip at home when she’s drinking. I

want to see more of that relationship.








Beth is depressed, but

she soon bounces back and meets Jeremy (Joshua Jackson) and decides to move to

New York with him. But when Dink needs her back, she goes back to work with

him, sending Jeremy to New York on his own. However, she is soon let go again,

and so moves to New York. (The movie does seem to bounce around a lot, like Beth’s

thought process, never being completely rational. But I like that the film

doesn’t take the obvious path.)








So in New York she’s

playing basketball, and an offhand remark by one of the players, Dave Greenberg

(John Caroll Lynch), incites her to look up Rosie (a bookie played by Vince

Vaughn that she met earlier in Las Vegas) and to begin working for him. She

takes bets from Dave Greenberg and his friends, though in New York, it’s

dangerous, because it’s illegal.








Lay The Favorite is a character-driven film. This isn’t a movie

about that one big score, and it doesn’t devolve into some ridiculous shoot-out

or anything. This is a film that I enjoyed more as it went on.








Also, the actual sports

gambling scenes seem believable to me. I know nothing about gambling, but these

scenes ring true.  And yes, I like that

plush hamster toy that plays “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.”








Bonus Material








This DVD contains one

bonus feature, Deleted Scenes. There are eleven deleted scenes, some of which I

wish the filmmakers had left in. Basically, the later ones are the better

scenes.








Lay The Favorite is scheduled to be released on DVD and Blu-ray

through Anchor Bay on March 5, 2013.






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