Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Damn you gotta love a movie. I mean I’m completely down for the ‘Happy Ending’ and all, and I’m not talking about the kind you get a massage parlor, but this movie ‘Player 5150’ might have taken the whole happy ending thing a little bit too far.

Whatever those endorphins are that send stimulus to your brain when you get excited, Joey (Ethan Embry) is addicted to them. He works in the high pressure field of stock trading during the day, placing his boss on edge with his high risk hedging and questionable practices, though he is the top trader at the firm. Apparently though, the rush and that thrills Joey gets risking his job and other peoples money can’t come close to the rush he gets by risking his own cheddar as the man is also a compulsive gambler. And a drug addict since he snorts cocaine, but only on days that end in Y.

Thing is that Joey has a pretty good life because along with his swell job and his sweet Benzo he also has a perfectly beautifully sculpted wife in Ali (Kathleen Robinson) whose life ain’t so bad either since she’s a top aide to the governor of this mythical state, she’s madly in love with her gambling addicted, drug addicted, endorphin addicted husband, plus she with child.

The problem comes from Joey owing Tony (Christopher Macdonald), a low level but very violent bookie a significant amount of cash, but being the gambler, Joey has a load of money riding on some games the coming weekend. If he wins, he owes a little, if he loses, he owes a LOT. Now chances are that Joey will lose these bets, but before it comes to that we should mention the presence of Nick (Bob Gunton), a higher level bookie who Low Level Tony owes money to. It just so happens that Nick is a friend to Joey and uses his investing skills, though Nick has no idea that Joey is actually the player code named 5150. If Nick had known this I doubt very seriously he would have

given Joey 300,000 dollars in cash to hold over the weekend to invest for him the following Monday. Nick wanted to avoid the whole ‘Tax’ thing which is why he gave our hero the under the table cash. There’s also Dwayne (Patrick Maple), a stupid college kid who’s in hock to Tony for ten grand and has taken to robbing convenience stores. Now to get things straight, Dwayne has to get Tony ten grand by Monday, Joey has to get Tony a hundred grand by Monday and Tony has to get Nick at least that much and probably more by Monday. How in the hell is a drug addicted gambling addict with a pregnant wife who is getting her ass kicked by Tony and them even as we speak, going to get out of this mess.

Smelling like roses actually. I’m gonna try not to spoil this movie for you though I’m doing some kind of terrible job at that right about now. But despite the absolutely ridiculous ending that ‘Player 5150’ had, I actually enjoyed this little movie. Ethan Embry did a fine job portraying Joey and giving us a portrayal of an addict and his complete inability to get out of his own way. Writer / Director David Michael O’Neil tells a reasonably interesting story that is well paced, though there may have been a few too many characters off in the periphery for us to deal with. Even though we’re a big fan of actor Christopher MacDonald I’m not to sure about my man playing a mobster, with the same going for veteran character actor Vyto Ruginis who played the governor. Now Christopher MacDonald as a slimy politician and Vyto Ruginis as a mobster I can see plain as day. Type casting perhaps, but that I can see.

Ethan Embry was also assisted by the fact that he was born with a pair of very sad emotive eyes, while Kathleen Robinson is about the opposite as her eyes are narrow and intense and give the appearance of looking right through you, as she also gives a solid performance as the loving wife who has attempted to turn a blind eye to her husbands glaring flaws until those flaws start knocking on her door.

There were a lot of situations in the movie that were pretty silly and a tad bit unrealistic and required us viewers to swallow quite a bit of implausibility from scene to scene. Plus you gotta love it when the character of Dwight walks into the mean mobster’s kitchen to tell this mean mobster he doesn’t have his loot wearing a very bright dangling earring. I don’t know much, but I think if I’m to tell some evil dude that I don’t have his money, I should make it a point not to go visit said evil dude wearing anything that is attached to my physical person that can be easily ripped off. That’s just me though. Then there was the resolution to all of this which was so unbelievable that it almost has to be seen to be believed. Talk about no consequences from your actions. Finally, I’m no psychologist but if one is a gambling addict should one get a part time job in a Bingo Hall? Isn’t that like alcoholic saying ‘oh, it’s just beer’? Just wondering.

While ‘Player 5150’ certainly isn’t spectacular by any means, it is fairly solid piece of entertainment with some decent performances framed around some of the craziest resolutions to a gambling problem you’re ever gonna see. Gotta love a happy ending.

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