Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Poker Movies: Harold and Kumar Go to the World Series of Poker

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Before we begin, make sure you read two excellent posts on poker movies:
1. Poker Movies See Too Many Flops by Otis (Up for Poker)

2. Why Poker Movies Fail by Change100 (Pot Committed)
OK, now that you are up to speed, you understand the basic reasons why poker movies fail.

I never saw Lucky You. I have had several chances but never pulled the trigger. Just the other night it was on cable and I didn't even give it a glance. I watched Bend It Like Beckham instead for like the 67th time.

Seeing a damaged flick like Lucky You is sort of like sitting down in a shitty restaurant where you know your food is going to suck. So what's the point of wasting your time anyway?

I attended a major press conference for Lucky You during the 2006 WSOP at the theatre in the Rio. I smoked up before I went inside and was nice and toasty as I waited in a massive line that wrapped several rows of slot machines on the gaming floor.

The front of the press conference was flooded with mainstream and local media types. I sat in the back with the poker press and blogging crew. We had been at the WSOP for several weeks at that point. We were jaded, tired, exhausted, drained, and wanted to go home. But for some reason each of us got roped into attending the press conference or got assigned to cover it for one of our employers. I still don't know why I was there. I vaguely recall sitting in the back and flipping off Otis. He took this photo during the middle of Drew Barrymore speaking.

I had a lot more hair then and I still have that Snailtrax shirt which continues to be in my rotation of t-shirts.

I scanned my blog archives and looked through my own personal journal files to find some notes from that press conference. Here's the peculiar thing... I could not find anything. It freaked me out for a second because I write down everything. My only explanation I must have been super bored during the press conference. I remember why... I knew the movie would suck. It had been delayed for two years and had a plethora of release date changes. I was wasting my time on a bomb and grew bitter sitting in the press conference listening to half-retarded beat writers asking Drew Barrymore mundane questions.

I rebelled and decided not to write about it. Instead, I cracked jokes in the back with Otis and Mad and encouraged them to skip out so we could go drink at the Hooker Bar before we had to return to the grind of covering the WSOP.

I was surprised that Lucky You involved Curtis Hanson. He's one of my favorite directors (L.A. Confidential, 8 Mile, and Wonder Boys) and I often wondered why he chose to commit artistic suicide on a poker movie with a flawed script... one that he shared a writing credit. He has not worked since then. Coincidence? Or is he just in hiding waiting to return in a couple of years with a sequel to 8 Mile featuring a fat-Elvis version of Eminem?

Change100 explained to me the logistics of what it takes to get a movie made in Hollywood... and it's nearly impossible even if you have the credentials and pedigree like Drew Barrymore and Curtis Hanson. As far as Lucky You goes, it appeared that everyone involved was gambling on a movie about gambling.

I mean, in the end, isn't that what Hollywood is all about? Speculating on what the public wants to see? The production occurred smack in the middle of the poker boom when hipsters were embracing everything poker. Hollywood fatcats thought they could capitalize on the poker fever that was captivating middle America. They flushed millions of dollars down the toilet because something went wrong which Change100 marvelously explained...
Lucky You had everything you can possibly have going for you when it comes to getting a movie made. But all the money in the world, or at least Burbank, couldn't solve the film's biggest problem.

It just wasn't good.

If a movie is good, people more often than not tend to see it. It doesn't matter if it's about poker, the apocalypse, or hot-air ballooning. If Lucky You was good, even a little bit good, I really believe it could have found some sort of audience...
Lucky You was poker's only shot and it failed miserably. Taking tremendous risks and failing miserably is a recipe for ruined careers in Tinsel Town. That's why we get safe flicks like sequels which are guaranteed to make money versus taking a risk at something artistically appetizing but won't be digested by the ravenous audiences who have been getting their cinematic experiences spoon fed to them for the last three decades.

And that's why I have been secretly holed up in the Hollyweird Hills frantically writing a screenplay over the last few months. In an attempt to capitalize on sequel fever in Hollywood and in order to incorporate a poker-themed movie, I penned... Harold and Kumar Go to the World Series of Poker.

It has everything you would want in a film. Two potheads are trying to get from downtown Las Vegas to the Rio to play in the WSOP. The only thing standing in their way is a former child actor (Neil Patrick Harris aka Doogie Howser) and a dead hooker. Hijinks ensue.

The script wrote itself.

Here's a sample...
FAN #1
Oh my god! You're John Juanda!

Here we go again.

FAN #2
Can I take a picture?

FAN #1
Seriously. John Juanda, you're my favorite player.

Make it quick. The man has work to do.

FAN #2
So what's Clonie really like? Ever hit that?

OK, that was just a little taste. Here's some more....

Will you two queers chill the fuck out already.

Chill the fuck out? Unless you're fuckin' blind, did you
notice that there's a dead hooker in the bathroom?

I know. Who do you think put her there?

Dude, we gotta get out of here. Kumar has to get to the Rio.

I play at the final table of the WSOP in two hours and
I got hooker blood all over me.

(Points to HAROLD)
I thought Asians were good at math. How come you're not playing?

Sick beat. I got it all in with Queens from late position. Some
donkey called with 10-7 off suit and...

Save the bad beat story for your blog, Juanda.

Jesus Christ. When the cops find out, we're fucked.

Relax, dick wad. I have it all taken care of.
(Dials on his cellphone)
I know a guy who owns a service. They take care of these sorts of things.

Like removing dead hookers from Las Vegas hotel suites?

Exactly that thing. This guy Julio is a psycho ex-special forces
guy from Nicaragua.

This is his expertise?

Yeah. He's a true artist. Ben Affleck referred him to me.

Dude, we should get the fuck out right now and let NPH deal
with the dead hooker.

(mutters something into the phone in Spanish)
Don't go yet. You have to help me pay Julio. Do any of you fagots
have three grand? I'm all tapped out. Blew it all at the Rhino.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

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