I gambled on this one...and lost...
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 03/23/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"When one thinks about some of the great films to come out of Hollywood with regards to gambling and such, movies like Rounders (1998), The Cincinnati Kid (1965), Owning Mahowny (2003), and The Sting (1973), to name a few, come to mind. One film that does not come to mind is Stacy's Knights (1982) for the specific reason that it sucks. I know, I know, you're probably shocked to hear me use such language, and usually I can find better ways to express myself, but this film just sucked, plain and simple. You may ask what was I expecting with a film like this? Academy gold? Not at all, but geez...it was almost like they tried to make it as bad as it was on purpose. Here's a bit of trivia for you...what does this film have in common with the Oscar winning movie Dances with Wolves (1990), besides the fact both star Kevin Costner? Well, I'll tell you...Michael Blake wrote both films, and also both films were produced by Jim Wilson (he also took the role of director here). The film also stars Andra Millian, who's probably best remembered from the rather annoying late 80's TV show "thirtysomething". Also appearing is Mike Reynolds (Young Lady Chatterley II).
The film begins with some very annoying ubiquitous disco-like music (get used to it, as you'll be hearing it throughout the film) that contains various gambling references, along with the continuing chorus of `Double Down', so, with that, and the showing of a lot of neon lights, I'm assuming we're in for a film about gambling and such...we see a frumpy, mousy woman, with perhaps the biggest glasses I've ever seen short of Elton John in his glam heyday, making her way to a blackjack table, playing one hand, losing, and then leaving (by the way, the dowdiness of her appearance certainly foreshadows the possibility of a fabulous makeover later on in the film). Turns out she came all the way to Reno, from San Francisco (or possibly L.A.), and then drove all the way back...okay...arriving home she runs crying to her very ugly drama teacher (I'm not seeing where this is going at all) who comforts her, and then the two return to Reno to gamble some more. Turns out the bespeckled girl is named Stacy, and she has some kind of ability to count cards, but hasn't quite learned how to master said skill. Her meager attempts catch the eye of a hanger on named Will Bonner (Costner), who talks his way into partnering up with Stacy because, apparently, he knows the `system', but can't play worth squat. Eventually through his tutelage Stacy becomes very successful, but now the Casino manager, Shecky Poole (Reynolds), has his eye on her and her companions, as he thinks they're cheating, but can't prove it...which leads to bit of tragedy as we see Casino owners can be quite vindictive. In an effort to get revenge, Stacy assembles a team of card counters, deciding to hit Shecky where he lives...in the pocket book.
If I had to pick one element of this film as being the worst, it would have to be the story, followed closely by the script. The characters are nonsensical and have no other reason for existing other than that's they way they're written. Costner's character is a prospector whose got some sort of gambling fever, along with being some sort of expert with cards, but can't play because he loses too much. Say what? And then Millian's character wants to be a lawyer, but suffers from a lack of self-confidence, so she decides to take up blackjack because she has the ability to count cards well...oh yeah, and then she, with the help of some old man who's supposed to be a mystical gambling guru (the cards are alive) that the casinos pay to keep him out, harnesses her skills to the point where she can tell what the next card from a deck before it's turned over...right...and then she assembles a team of cheaters at the end to take down the casino and the evil Shecky (complete with interviews of prospective gamblers...what, did she put an ad in the paper?). As far as the dialog, here's a pretty standard (the standard being awful) sample that occurs when the drama coach asks Costner's character about Shecky, the casino manager (his casino is perhaps the worst run gambling parlor I've ever seen), `Is he a nice guy?', to which Costner's character replies. `Heart like a barracuda.' What does that mean? The movie is filled with this sort of thing, like someone trying to be all hip and such but failing miserably. The story drags and drags and drags...the performances aren't all that bad, as it seemed like a lot of the actors were just here for the check and possibly some experience (I bet Costner would probably like to forget this little nugget of joy about as much as he would a film released four years later called Malibu Hot Summer (1986) aka Sizzle Beach, U.S.A.). Some things to watch out for...the drama coach, now all gussied up (she's still pretty nasty looking) seducing the casino owner Shecky, so that Stacy and her gang can run roughshod over the tables, scamming a load of dough. Pay particular attention the scene where Shecky, an older, greasy, unattractive man is prancing around in his red briefs...yuck.
The full screen (1.33:1) picture is passable, as is the Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo audio. I was shocked to see the inclusion of some meager extras, especially since this is a Rhino release, and they're not usually known for such. The extras include some lame animated bios (all of three), a still picture slideshow (looks like still shots taken off the TV), and a trailer for a film called Galaxina (1980), starring former Playboy centerfold Dorothy Stratten, before she got murdered by her crazy boyfriend.