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Four Dogs Playing Poker (2000)
Four Dogs Playing Poker is a 2000 crime thriller directed by Paul Rachman starring Stacy Edwards, Balthazar Getty, Olivia Williams, Daniel London, Tim Curry and Forest Whitaker. A group of friends steal a valuable statuette for a ruthless art dealer. The amateur thieves botch the delivery of the statuette and the art dealer demands that they pay him $1 million by the end of the week or face the consequences: certain death. Desperate, the friends decide to take out a $1 million life insurance policy on one of themselves with the idea that if one of them is sacrificed, the others will collect on the policy and be able pay off the art dealer. What follows is a reckoning: The friends enter into a lethal lottery to choose who will be the victim and who will be the killer.
Sure 'nuff, I never could have expected the day when Olivia Williams (Rushmore) and Balthazar Getty (Shadow Hours) would appear in the same film -- much less play lovers. And in fact, the rest of 4 Dogs Playing Poker is just as improbable, with Tim Curry(!) leading four young and aspiring art thieves on a caper in Argentina, only to blow it by failing to ensure the loot is shipped to the man (Forest Whitaker) who comissioned the gig. Our young heroes find themselves in a bind, as Curry gets snuffed and they are asked to pay up $1 million for the objet d'art gone missing. Their plan: insure each of their lives for a mil, then secretly and randomly assign one of the four to kill another, thus collecting the payoff fee.
Well, films have been based on worse premises (like, you know, Shadow Hours), but the strange ensemble presented here makes the movie oddly compelling. It's hard to pick any character that you actually want to survive -- they could all get snuffed as far as I cared -- but at least the ride the take is reasonably fun. While the film would like to be compared to Shallow Grave, but these Dogs have nowhere near the style or the unexpected plot twists that Grave has. (You'll have this one figured out from the get-go.) But hey, if there's nothing better to be found at the Blockbuster, well, this just might do.
Aka Four Dogs Playing Poker.