Falls at the First
Having tired of lap dancing for a living Beth (Rebecca Hall) leaves Florida and heads to Las Vegas to try and find work as a cocktail waitress. Whilst waitressing didn't work out she did meet Dink (Bruce Willis) a professional gambler with a system who takes Beth under his wings and as she is good with numbers teaches her his system. Unfortunately Dink's wife Tulip (Catherine Zeta-Jones) takes offence to how close her husband and Beth are and forces him to fire her. Firstly it leads to Beth ending up with journalist Jeremy (Joshua Jackson) and then with low life bookie Rosie (Vince Vaughn) who ends up putting Beth in danger.
"Lay the Favorite" is based on a true story, that story is about Beth Raymer and her life. The thing is that before watching "Lay the Favorite" I had never heard of Beth Raymer and having watched the movie I don't think I know any more about her. In fact having watched "Lay the Favorite" I am more intrigued as to who thought her story was worthy of being turned into a movie as this certainly does not make it seem that special.
Part of the trouble with "Lay the Favourite" is that it doesn't know what it is, there are some moments of comedy and some moments of drama but it is uneven. It also is uneven when it comes to characters because Beth comes across as naive and bubbly whilst Jeremy is as dull as dish water. Thrown on top extreme characters such as Rosie and Tulip and I just don't know what the intention was when it came to the movie. What I also don't know about is the whole betting system which seems to be the focus of the movie. This is a huge problem because that makes the movie all the more pointless because how do you get in to a movie which seems like it is about an ordinary person doing something you don't really understand.
The knock on effect of all of this, especially the mixed tone of the movie, is that despite a decent cast the performances end up disappointing. Catherine Zeta-Jones is criminally underused Tulip whilst Joshua Jackson is utterly forgettable as Jeremy because his character is so bland. Even Bruce Willis seems to struggle as one minute he is cynical, comic mode and the next looking like he's wondering what he is doing in the movie. And as for Rebecca Hall, well she comes across as happy and energetic but again the character struggles from a lack of writing.
What this all boils down to is that "Lay the Favorite" ends up an oddity as I am not entirely sure that Beth Raymer's story is interesting enough to be made in to a movie and if it is it certainly wasn't done a service by this complete mixed bag of a movie.