‘Lay the Favourite’ is based on a memoir of the same name that follows the journey of Beth Raymer (Rebecca Hall), a young women who becomes sick of her in-house stripping job and decides to go to Vegas to become a casino waitress. When she gets to Vegas she ends up helping a local successful gambler Dink (Bruce Willis) who runs a strong money making operation with the help of a couple of people. Whilst assisting Dink she gets caught up in the world of sports gambling as well as falling for her employer who happens to be married to a woman named Tulip (Catherine Zeta Jones). As the relationships start to get murky the business begins to slide in this dramedy about the life and work of a young woman in Vegas. Read on for more…
‘Lay the Favourite’ is an odd little film with big names and a linear story, but it also happens to be a quaint little film that is easy to watch and enjoy without becoming fully involved with the characters and the story. To begin the film gets off to a simple but mildly funny start as we watch Beth visit a couple of her cooky clients for whom she strips, this sets up her trip to Vegas to be a cocktail waitress which results in her employment by Dink. It is her that the most interesting part of the film takes place as Beth gets to grips with the system Dink has set up as well as the world of sports gambling. Unfortunately the entire story does not take place around this as the final act has Beth trying to run her own operation in Costa Rica and getting into some trouble on the way. There is a significant shift in mood when this happens and it upsets the style and balance of the film overall. As its based on a memoir its arguably necessary to demonstrate the full development of the characters, but it does affect the overall enjoyment as the mood of the film shifts from what you have spent an hour getting comfortable with.
The acting is pretty decent from all involved but some of the characters did feel a little embellished, aspects of some roles feeling like caricatures that you would find in the most basic of horror films. Its not an outstanding issue with the film but it appears they have made some characters a little too silly, a little too intense and a little too bitchy for the sake of comedy. This is an issue you might find in films that try to mesh together real life accounts with theatrical comedy but it does not always gel. Another little nag with the characters is that some of them are throw away characters that have little relevance to the film aside from pushing the story forward, Catherine Zeta Jones character does feature now and then but seeing more of her would have definitely helped give reason and cause to actions that stemmed from her behaviour in the film. However the most pointless characters in this film belong to Joshua Jackson and Vince Vaughn who play a boyfriend and idiotic gambling addict. Joshua’s role is small but has strong relevance to Beth’s actions but because he is seldom seen we do not feel for him or care to see him around.
Come the end of the film ‘Lay the Favourite’ is a decent watch, it does not excel in any area but is light hearted and easy to watch certainly offering a less intense film than the summer period usually offers up. It is a small time film with some big name actors. Few will dislike the film but most might find it hard to totally enjoy as the comedy that features is not your laugh out loud kind but your subtle chuckle type. The Snooty Usher approves if it is on TV and you have some time to burn.