[Ed. note: I wrote this review before Deadpool came out]
If you’ve always felt that Ryan Reynolds has been *this close* to being actually good in a movie, this is, finally, the flick you’ve been waiting for. Exactly how it all clicks for the Vancouver native is hard to pin down, but surely it must have something to do with his primary co-star Ben Mendelsohn.
Mendelsohn plays Gerry, a downtrodden real estate agent and gambling addict in Dubuque, Iowa, who brightens considerably when he chances to meet the amiably louche drifter Curtis (Reynolds) at the poker table one night. Exactly why Curtis takes a shine to him is never exactly clear, but Gerry’s improved fortunes convince him that the “big, handsome leprechaun” is his new good luck charm. Together the pair hatch a Mississippi River road trip with the goal of putting together enough winnings to buy into a legendary high stakes poker game in New Orleans.
Perhaps what works in Reynolds’ favour here is that the movie as a whole takes stock characters you’ve seen a million times before and humanizes them, from the charming layabout Curtis to the obsessed gambler Gerry, to the prostitute girlfriends, the bluesy lounge singer (a great cameo by singer-songwriter Marshall Chapman). In any case, a very enjoyable couple of hours spent with these characters.