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The Grand is an improv comedy film directed by Zak Penn. The film has an ensemble cast including Ray Romano, Woody Harrelson, Chris Parnell, Werner Herzog, Jason Alexander, Dennis Farina, David Cross, Gabe Kaplan, Michael Karnow and Cheryl Hines along with several real Las Vegas poker stars.

According to Penn, the film is styled after those of Christopher Guest, where each actor is given direction concerning their character, and the actors are left to improvise each individual scene. The plot of The Grand was somewhat more open-ended than Guest's work, however. The focus of the film is a poker tournament played at the Golden Nuggetmarker in Las Vegasmarker between the characters in which real poker matches were played by the actors as the scenes were filmed. The film's script did not specify the winner of the tournament, and the ending of the film was determined by the actual game played on set.

The film debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival, and was distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment.

The film opened in limited release in the United States on March 21, 2008, opened in wider release on April 4, 2008, and is now on DVD.


Jack Faro (Harrelson) is, at the time of the film, a recovering drug addict who has had so many relapses in the past, he ultimately decided to move into his rehab and just live there. Having been married 75 times, he is a serial husband and is always on the look out for number 76 (At the beginning of the movie, he hits on a bartender who informs him that they had already been married even though he has no idea who she is). Even with his faults, he is a lovable guy who, just out of rehab, enters The Grand: a huge Texas Hold 'Em poker tournament in Las Vegas created by his grandfather Lucky Faro (Barry Corbin). He main motivation is to win the 10 million dollar pot to cover a loan he got from another ultimately apathetic casino owner to keep open his family's casino, The Rabbit's Foot, whom his grandfather left him when he died and that he has mismanaged into the ground. It is also a matter of contention in the film that Jack is playing in a poker competition that he owns.

The rest of the players all "won" their seats after winning an online poker tournament. The other players in The Grand include the Schwartzman twins, Larry (Cross) and Lainie (Hines), who have been forced into a sibling rivalry throughout their lives by their father (Kaplan). Harold Melvin (Parnell) is a genius with social issues who still lives with his mother (Estelle Harris). Other contestants are Andy Andrews (Richard Kind), an online poker champion; Deuce Fairbanks (Farina), a wily old veteran of Vegas, and The German (Herzog), a cheater who ritualistically sacrifices small animals to gain luck at cards.


Pro Poker Player Cameos

Critical reception

The film received mixed to favorable reviews from critics. As of March 21, 2008, the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 42% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 36 reviews. Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 61 out of 100, based on 13 reviews.


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