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.