Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

October 1, 2013 at 11:51am

Judging by the Trailer: "Runner Runner"

Justin Timberlake takes a gamble in the lead role of the casino crime drama "Runner Runner." Photo credit: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

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A quick aside before we dive into the ludicrous Runner Runner: When I worked at The Grand Cinema, I had a friend and coworker who made the majority of his income in two ways, neither of which had anything to do with working at a movie theater. The more fanciful of the methods was that he would spend hours playing World of Warcraft, collecting in-game items that he would then sell to other gamers for real-life money. One man allegedly paid him $1,500, which he had to do in installations so his wife wouldn't notice.

The rest of his money was made in online poker. Needless to say, my friend's continued work at an art house theater should be an indication that online poker is, generally, not nearly as sexy and dangerous as Runner Runner says.

Starring Justin Timberlake in yet another role that comes nowhere close to matching the promise he showed in The Social Network and Alpha Dog, Runner Runner quickly raises its banner as the spiritual sequel to the equally ridiculous fake-poker classic, Rounders. Timberlake needs to raise funds for tuition, so he starts playing online poker (three tables at a time, which my friend also did), and almost wins the jackpot before being cheated by a mysterious opponent.

Soon enough, we're off to Costa Rica where Timberlake is seduced by Ben Affleck and the promise of endless riches as a professional poker dude (technical term). Brief glimpses of Deadmau5 and bikini-clad women follow, hammering home the point that it's pretty great to be rich and in Costa Rica. Ah, but the law catches up to Timberlake, turning him against Ben Affleck - who, it must be said, is chewing the scenery with even more voracity than that of the crocodiles he keeps in his super-villain backyard.

Poker on film is notoriously difficult to make exciting, which should explain why Runner Runner has made the choice to instead focus on people yelling at each other in a tropical locale.

Of interest to fans of Comedy Bang! Bang! and Parks and Recreation is the presence of Ben Schwartz, which just might make the experience of watching Runner Runner worth it. But probably not.

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