11 February 2004 | tccandler
'Finder's Fee' is a Mamet-like conundrum.
THREE STARS - 82 out of 100 - 'Finder's Fee' is a Mamet-like conundrum about a winning lottery ticket and the role it plays in a friendly weekly poker game amongst friends. Jeff Probst, of Survivor fame, wrote and directed this film on a miniscule budget of $1,000,000. He does a fantastic job for a first time filmmaker. The film moves along swiftly, never leaving time for you to check your watch. There are some really tense moments that will have your pulse racing, which is pretty impressive for a film that takes place almost entirely inside one apartment. The only thing that fails the film is the drastic overacting from some of the supporting players.
Palladino does a great job in the lead role as the young man, on the verge of proposing to his girlfriend, who finds a wallet on the rain soaked streets of New York. Inside the wallet is a winning lottery ticket worth in excess of $6,000,000. After a phone call to the only phone number in the wallet, James Earl Jones shows up to claim it.... sans the $6 mill. Both Palladino and Jones are very good here. And Carly Pope has a small role that deserves some praise.
However, what really derails the film is the performances of Matthew Lillard, Ryan Reynolds and Dash Mihok. The main culprit is Lillard, who obscenely overacts his part every chance he gets. The man is truly incapable of subtlety in any performance and it is most notable here. This is an obnoxious distraction and it overshadows the many things that are so right about this film. Reynolds and Mihok are forgivable, although they both have some truly awful moments that will make you cringe with embarrassment for them.
I am still giving the film a solid recommendation... the story is original and tense, and the screenplay is very crafty. Probst easily does enough to merit a career as a director... he should get more work in this field as soon as Mark Burnett releases him from his island-hopping duties! If only the supporting cast had not tried so hard to steal the film from Probst and the two main leads, this would have been a small treasure. As it stands, 'Finder's Fee' is a good little film that will serve as an enjoyable rental. -- Critical Mass Movie Reviews - www.tccandler.com