Movie: Sometimes you enjoy a movie as a guilty pleasure, without wanting to read too much into it. Roads To Riches is one such film. The movie is a low budget independent film that centers on three characters; Henry (Kip Pardue)a young man who can't lose; Jack (Robert Forster), a gambler who's past successes cause him to fail at everything he tries; and Moira (Rose McGowan), a stripper with problems that has to decide between the two.
The movie is an odd mix of low budget drama, a bit of comedy, and a darker movie about personal limitations in context of romantic complications. If that sounds confused, imagine what watching it must've been like for me. The movie shows Jack, on his last legs, losing on a TV game show in what appeared to be a fixed outcome. Henry rolls into town and has an aura about him that Jack automatically recognizes as a winning streak-just because he's a loser doesn't mean he can't spot a winner. Enter Moira, a stripper that Henry falls for at first sight, and you have the ingredients of a love triangle with many possibilities.
Henry, in an attempt to win a few bucks, gets a chance to win on the game show. Losing to what seemed like an impossibly hard question, the show's producer, Dan (Harry Hamlin), sees that the audience loves the kid. With the show about to be cancelled, he gets the idea that making Henry the host might save the day. Jack, spotting a way to make a few bucks, signs on as the kid's agent, and before you know it, all three of the lead characters are displaying self destructive behavior that has led them to this point in their lives.
The acting by McGowen was superior to her recent stint on the TV show Charmed with Pardue and Forster also providing solid performances. The movie bogs down in the middle, unsure of whether it wants to be a romantic comedy or a drama, and loses too much steam to maintain the initial pace but there was enough here to recommend it as a Rental. It was rated R for language and at least the bittersweet ending was acceptable. I just wish the movie had provided the cast with somewhere to go when they all reverted to the form of their characters. Most likable for me was Pardue, a guy I just saw in the wacky But I'm A Cheerleader and I wish McGowan had shown some more flesh as a stripper but it was an interesting, if mindless, diversion.
Picture: The picture was presented in 16:9 format widescreen color. It looked a bit grainy with some problems relating to the color and sharpness, as well as the composition. In short, it looked like a low budget movie.
Sound: The sound presented a choice of 5.1 English or 2.0 English or Spanish with optional subtitles in English, French or Spanish. I listened to the 5.1 track and spot checked the other two. Not the greatest sound for a movie but the vocals were clear enough to hear what they said and the soundtrack was pretty solid, with McGowan singing a track herself.
Extras: There were four cast biographies and a paper insert that listed the dvd chapters.
Final Thoughts: This is a rental title on a night when everything new is already gone, or perhaps even one to look for on late night HBO if you're a fan of the cast. It had a number of interesting moments but nothing strong enough to stand out in my mind as something I'd be able to use to entice anyone to check it out. It's not a terrible film but it is often mundane and that's why I think this will appeal mostly to fans of the leads only.