The Grand

The Grand is a mockumentary in the tradition of Christopher Guests.  The formula is simple: a fantastic ensemble cast, quirky characters, and some choice cameos/short appearances.  It also features appearances from a few poker players including Doyle Brunson and Phil Laak.  By far the best poker personality present though is Phil Gordon, of celebrity jeopardy fame.  He’s a perfect mixture of professionalism and incredulousness at his partner while playing the straight man of the announcing team.

The feel is incredibly loose and improvisational (director Zak Penn apparently had the actors improvise much of the dialogue.  Additionally, the plot/ending was decided by the actual poker game the cast had going).  Chris Parnell’s character, a Dune fanatic, is probably the most absurdly enjoyable, but David Cross has more than a few great moments.  David Cross and Cheryl Hines play twins, possibly a play on brother-sister poker duo Howard Lederer and Annie Duke (like Hines’ character, Duke has gotten the better of her brother).

Much of the film is shot in the ESPN-style poker tournament style and is most probably the most realistic depiction of professional poker I’ve seen in a film.  This gives it an air of realism that makes the hilarious dialogue all the more humorous.

Arbitrary song of the day: The White Stripes – Icky Thump

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