Who's in It:
Forest Whitaker, Kim Basinger, Nick Cannon, Danny DeVito, Kelsey Grammer, Carla Gugino, Ray Liotta, Jay Mohr, Tim Roth
The Basics: Basinger loves the slots! Whitaker loves betting on points-shaved basketball games! Other people do some gambling, too! Badly! Always losing! It makes them and all the people around them sad, and worst of all, none of them have the good sense to do it at the Bellagio, where the rooms are really nice and they have that wacky fountain to look at and, at the end of the day, a show by Celine Dion or Blue Man Group at nearby hotels. It's really best if you're going to be a miserable addict to have a plush environment for hitting bottom.
What's the Deal? I think we all learned from Crash that racism is very, very, very wrong, didn't we? In fact, now that racism has since been eradicated, it's time for the Cinema to cure another of society's ills: the scourge that is Really Fun Betting on Stuff. And what better way to attack a problem than to set up multiple storylines about people whose only function is to ultimately spiral out of control? That way, the point is made many times instead of just a measly old one time, and the audience has to do nothing but wait around for about 70 minutes and enjoy watching the inevitable.
How It's Like Reefer Madness: One of the first shots shows Basinger, already strung out due to the come-hither call and empty promise of three-whatevers-in-a-row on her slot machine of choice. Her hand is on the stick, shaking in a fit of jangled nerves, and she's muttering to herself, establishing a feature-length contempt for anything resembling subtlety. I kept fantasizing that three little Alec Baldwin heads would pop up in a row, and the machine would spit out a jillion dollars, but it wouldn't matter because she'd jump up screaming and run away, cured of her insatiable need.
Who's Awesome: Grammer playing noir gumshoe, lurking in seedy bars to track a gambling-related homicide. With a wild fake nose. And why the fake nose? Well, why not? Nicole Kidman did it, and she got an Oscar. Why not Grammer? When will it be his turn? Again, because I was so irritated by it all, I started imagining what it would be like how amazing and fun it would make this movie if everyone in it had a prosthetic nose.
Who Should See It: All screenwriters and producers and directors and actors who think that this type of hand-wringy, cast-of-dozens, social-conscience film is a good thing to keep on making. They should have to watch it three times a day for a month until it's out of their system.