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Featured DVD / Blu-ray Review: Lay the Favorite

March 2nd, 2013

Lay the Favorite - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Lay the Favorite opened last November in limited release, but despite boasting an impressive cast and an Oscar nominated director, it never found an audience in theaters. It was also playing in Video on Demand, which usually kills a film's box office chances. Will it find a more receptive audience on the home market? Or was it destined to struggle no matter what?

The Movie

When we first meet Beth, she is a private "dancer", which seems like it is halfway between stripping and prostitution. She makes good money, but some of her clients are clearly nuts, so she's looking for a new job. She's looking for a new life, so she moves to Las Vegas to become a cocktail waitress.

Unfortunately, she has trouble getting a job as a cocktail waitress, because she's not union, and she doesn't want to go back to stripping. One of her new friends, Holly, gets her an interview with Dink, a professional gambler. He quickly hires her, especially after he sees her talent with numbers, and words. Dink's been having a bit of bad luck, so much so he begins to think his wife, Tulip, is a jinx. Tulip hates Beth, because she thinks Beth is young and pretty and has feelings for Dink. And Tulip is correct there. It becomes so bad that Tulip demands Dink fire Beth. And he does.

After a bit of a depression, Beth bounces back and hits the casinos with Holly. There Beth meets Jeremy, and the two become an item. It's love at first sight, so much so she decides to leave Vegas and move to New York with Jeremy. (There is a slight delay in this trip when Dink realizes he needs Beth back.)

Will her luck change in New York?

Lay the Favorite is based on the real life memoirs of Beth Raymer. However, it just didn't feel real. It feels like a farce. None of the characters come across as both engaging and real. Rebecca Hall is a good actress, but Beth is just a bundle of quirks. Vince Vaughn plays a rival bookie who Beth works for later on, and he's overacting so much it is distracting, as is his New York accent. Laura Prepon also had a weird accent that was off-putting. Bruce Willis and Joshua Jackson were both sleepwalking through the movie. Because so few of the characters felt real, the movie wasn't able to build any tension. In the end, I didn't care how the final bet turned out.

On a side note, Jyrki Lumme is not pronounced Jerky. As someone who takes their fandom of the Canucks to the level of a mental insanity, this bugged me.

The Extras

There are eight minutes of deleted scenes on the DVD. I don't have the Blu-ray to compare, but it costs nearly 50% more money. That's too much to ask for a movie like this.

The Verdict

Lay the Favorite is just a mess. There's so much talent here, that I'm surprised it wasn't at least a little engaging. There's not enough extras on the DVD to be worth even renting, while the Blu-ray is overpriced compared to the DVD.

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Filed under: Video Review, Lay the Favorite, Bruce Willis, Rebecca Hall, Joshua Jackson, Laura Prepon, Vince Vaughn, Catherine Zeta-Jones