Lay the Favorite (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 20, 2013 by  

“Lay the Favorite” was a film that may have featured a talented director and also featured a cast of big names but unfortunately, with an uninspired screenplay, the characters weren’t fully utilized and the film just lacks anything of interest unlike the original memoir that the film was based on. Probably worth a rental but nothing more.

Images courtesy of © 2012 Take the Dog, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Lay the Favorite


DURATION: 94 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:85:1 aspect ratio, English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, English – Audio Descriptive Track, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

COMPANY: Anchor Bay Entertainment

RATED: R (Language Throughout Some Sexual Content, Brief Drug Use and Nudity)

Release Date: March 5, 2013

Directed by Stephen Frears

Based on the Memoir by Beth Raymer

Screenplay by D.V. DeVincentis

Produced by Anthon Bregman, D.V. DeVincentis, Randall Emmett, George Furla, Paul Trijbits

Executive Producer: Brandt Andersen, Michael Corso, Peter Gethers, James Gibb, Brandon Grimes, Anthony Gudas, Peter Hampden, Alex G. Scott, James W. Skotchdopole

Music by James Seymour Brett

Cinematography by Michael Mcdonough

Edited by Mick Audsley

Casting by Victoria Thomas

Production Design by Dan Davis

Art Direction by Erik Polczwartek

Set Decoration by Michelle Schluter-Ford

Costume Design by Christopher Peterson


Bruce Willis as Dink Heimowitz

Catherine Zeta-Jones as Tulip Heimowitz

Vince Vaughn as Rosie

Rebecca Hall as Beth Raymer

Joshua Jackson as Jeremy

Laura Prepon as Holly

Frank Grillo as Frankie

Wendell Pierce as Dave the Rave

Corbin Bernsen as Jerry

Get ready to get lucky! Professional odds-maker Dink (Bruce Willis) is running a small-time sports gambling enterprise when a former stripper named Beth (Rebecca Hall) promises to help him score big — and turns his world upside down. With his connections and her knack for numbers, the lucrative business of sports betting will never be the same. Catherine Zeta-Jones and Joshua Jackson round out the talented cast of misfits who are willing to risk everything for their dreams. Sly and sexy, heart-warming and hilarious, LAY THE FAVORITE, directed by Stephen Frears, delivers laughs and thrills in this vivid exposé of the world of gambling based on the Beth Raymer’s best-selling memoir, “Lay the Favorite: A Memoir of Gambling.”

Director Stephen Frears (“The Queen”, “High Fidelity”, “Dangerous Liaisons”) and screenwriter D.V. DeVincentis (“High Fidelity”, “Grosse Point Blank”) are back together again for a new film based on the memoirs of American writer and journalist Beth Raymer, a memoir about her experiences in the sex industry, amateur boxing and sports betting.

The film would feature an all-star cast starring Bruce Willis (“Die Hard” films, “The Sixth Sense”, “The Fifth Element”), Catherine Zeta-Jones (“Chicago”, “The Terminal”, “Entrapment”), Vince Vaughn (“Wedding Crashers”, “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”, “The Break-Up”), Rebecca Hall (“The Prestige”, “Frost/Nixon”, “The Town”), Joshua Jackson (“Fringe”, “Dawson’s Creek”, “The Skulls”), Laura Prepon (“That 70’s Show”, “October Road”, “Are You There, Chelsea?”) and Corbin Bernsen (“L.A. Law”, “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”, “Psych”).

And now the film will be released on Blu-ray in March 2013 courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment.

“Lay the Favorite” revolves around a young woman named Beth Raymer (portrayed by Rebecca Hall) who is very smart when it comes to numbers but times have hit hard for her and her father (portrayed by Corbin Bernsen) due to the economy.

Beth has worked in survival jobs including as an in-home stripper, but after a brush with a gun-toting man, she decides that there should be safer ways to make money.  So, she makes the decision to move to Las Vegas and find a job.

Unfortunately, finding a job is not as easy as she thought as most employees work for a union, but Beth manages to meet a few people such as Holly (portrayed by Laura Prepon), who is staying at the same hotel.  And she decides to introduce Rebecca to Dink Heimowitz (portrayed by Bruce Willis), owner of a high-stakes gambling and bookmaking company.

Beth learns the world of high-stakes sports gambling and how to work the phones and for Dink, she is bringing good luck to his company.  As the two spend a lot of time together, Beth starts to fall for Dink and the two become very close with each other.

Unfortunately, Dink is a married man and his wife Tulip (portrayed by Catherine Zeta-Jones) is not to fond that a young woman is trying to take her husband.  So, with the threat of divorce, she tells Dink to get rid of Beth.

Valuing his marriage, he gives Beth a severance package of cash and tells her that she’s fired and it’s because it’s hurting his marriage.  Beth tries to get Dink to leave his wife but he is not willing to.

Upset and without a job once again, while at the casino she meets a journalist from New York named Jeremy (portrayed by Joshua Jackson) and immediately the two have fun with each other and they make plans that Beth will be leaving to New York with him.

The same week, without Beth, Dink’s company begins to suffer major losses.  One of his worst weeks in his company and when he needed help, he has Holly make a bet of $40,000 on a game.  But instead of listening to Dink, Holly bets the money on another team and loses it all.

Dink needs his good luck girl back and begs his wife to allow him to bring Beth back to his company and the two make an agreement that it’s only a business relationship and nothing more, but also, he allows her to have a face lift.

So, Beth cancels her plans with Jeremy and begins working for Dink once again.  But the losses continue and the “good luck” that Dink thought Beth would bring him, doesn’t come.  So, he fires her again, giving her high-earning poker chips for her to cash in and live a good life.

Beth decides to leave to New York and join Jeremy and the two begin their new lives with each other.  But while in New York, she meets people who are heavy sports gamblers and she goes to work for Rosie (portrayed by Vince Vaughn), but will her experience working in high stakes gambling in New York (which is illegal) bring her financial wealth or problems?


“Lay the Favorite” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1).  For the most part, picture quality for the film is very good.  Colors are vibrant and really look good outdoors.   Really good detail when it comes to closeups and colors black levels are nice and deep.  I didn’t notice any problems with the overall picture quality, no aliasing or artifacts.


“Lay the Favorite” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA.  The film is primarily all dialogue driven and dialogue is crisp and clear.  Not a film where you would hear a lot of surround usage but you do hear a bit of the ambiance come into play during the film.  But for a film like this, the lossless soundtrack was appropriate.

Subtitles are in Spanish.


“Lay the Favorite” come with the following special features:

  • Deleted Scenes – (7:41) A total of 11 deleted scenes.

“Lay the Favorite” may have been a fascinating memoir to read but as a film, I feel that the film tried to incorporate comedy but also be a bit deep at the same time but it just doesn’t work.

The primary character of Beth Raymer comes off in the film as a girl who loves her job of pleasing men as an in-home stripper, showing her body and getting what she wants but trying to make money and survive.  When compared to the original memoir, there is a much better story as Beth is trying to balance life at Florida State University and to pay her way through college life, she becomes a stripper.  But because of her not being satisfied or she was fired from these jobs, that’s the reason why she moved to Las Vegas.

I really don’t know if the real Beth Raymer was anything like the film version of Beth Raymer but the film’s first half hour tries to feature Beth as a naive sex kitten that who is a stripper, tries to have sexual relations with her boss and fidns a guy at a casino and has sex with him immediately after they met.

While the film tries to focus on high-stakes gambling, you’re left thinking…”really?”.  Not to say that Rebecca Hall’s portrayal of Beth Raymer makes her out like an “airhead” but perhaps instead of focusing on the sexy side of Beth Raymer, at the beginning of the film, there should have been some glimpse of her brilliance with numbers that is later mentioned in the film.  That Beth is actually a smart young woman, not just some kind of vamp.  Also, unless you have an interest in sports-gambling, the film is really lacking in structure and not that entertaining.

Of course, we eventually see Beth grow in the ranks of high-stake gambling when she moves to New York City and starts to make money for herself.  But by then, I’m wondering to myself, is this really a Stephen Frears film?  And what an unlikely film to find Bruce Willis and Catherine Zeta-Jones in.  But do give the film some credit in the fact that Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Joshua Jackson and Vince Vaughn made “Lay the Favorite” much more of an enjoyable film because they appeared in it.

The Blu-ray release does feature very good PQ and for dialogue-driven film, lossless audio was also good.  And for special features, you get eleven deleted scenes.

Overall, “Lay the Favorite” was a film that may have featured a talented director and also featured a cast of big names but unfortunately, with an uninspired screenplay, the characters weren’t fully utilized and the film just lacks anything of interest unlike the original memoir that the film was based on. Probably worth a rental but nothing more.


General Disclaimer:

J!-ENT has not received any compensation from the company for this post. J!-ENT has no material connection to the brands, products, or services that are mentioned in this post.

For Product Reviews:

For product reviews, J!-ENT has purchased the above product for review purposes or may have received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free by the company which in no way affects our reviews, may it be positive or negative. We only recommend products or services we have tested/reviewed and believe will be good for our readers.

For Advertising:

Some of the links in our posts are "affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, J!-ENT will receive an affiliate commission.

J!-ENT is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”