In Even Money, an overstructured, overacted indie drama about gambling, addiction, and the sawdusty romanticism of old-time magicians directed by veteran Mark Rydell, name-brand actors indulge themselves by playing showily eccentric characters who probably seemed cool in the script. Among the denizens at the crossroads of Dreamer and Loser Streets, a brittle Kim Basinger flutters as Carolyn, a successful author with a secret gambling addiction; Ray Liotta frets as her saintly husband; Jay Mohr talks trash as a junior bookie; Tim Roth terrorizes (surprise!) as a sadistic, far-more-senior bookie; Nick Cannon grins as a college hoops star; and Forest Whitaker wails as the athlete’s older brother who’s in over his head in debt.
In a tip of the top hat from novice screenwriter Robert Tannen to his magician grandfather, a sleight-of-hand man who calls himself the Amazing Abraham also kibitzes and, in the care of Danny DeVito, noodges the hell out of all concerned — except for Carolyn, who’s charmed. In fact, she’s so smitten that she shimmies into a slinky assistant’s costume. Then the slender woman says, ”This dress makes me look fat.” And, presto, my patience vanishes.