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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Lay the Favourite (2012)

Lay the Favourite (2012)

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Released 23-May-2013

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Trailer-Roadshow Trailers (7:04)
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 89:42
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (56:36) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Stephen Frears

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Rebecca Hall
Joel Murray
Hugo Armstrong
Corbin Bernsen
Earl Maddox
Rio Hackford
Jo Newman
Bruce Willis
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Vince Vaughn
Joshua Jackson
John Carroll Lynch
Frank Grillo
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music James Seymour Brett

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Beth Raymer (Rebecca Hall) is making ends meet by making house calls for clients and performing dance acts, i.e. she's a private dancer. Fed up with this lifestyle in Tallahassee, Florida, she agrees with her father (Corbin Bernsen) to head for Las Vegas. In Vegas, she gets a tip to link up with a man named Dink, of Dink Inc., one of the town’s biggest professional sports gamblers. Dink needs a right-hand man, someone who shows up on time, has a head for numbers, and who doesn’t steal. Beth gets the job and her life begins to transform.

    Lay the Favourite is based on the book; Lay the Favourite: A Story About Gamblers by Beth Raymer. It is the story of Beth’s years in the high-stakes, high-anxiety world of sports betting, a period that saw the fall of the local bookie and the birth of the freewheeling, unregulated offshore sports book, and with it the elevation of sports betting in popular culture. As the business explodes, Beth rises from assistant to expert, running an offshore booking office in the Caribbean. As the men around her succumb to their vices — money, sex, drugs and gambling, Beth improbably emerges with her integrity intact, wiser, sharper and nobody’s fool. A keen and compassionate observer of the adrenaline-addicted roguish types who become her mentors, her enemies, her family, Beth Raymer depicts an insanely colourful world teeming with pathos and ecstasy.

    Unfortunately for Director Stephen Frears, who gave us films such as High Fidelity and The Queen, in Lay the Favourite he has no opportunity to develop a fully-realised film due to the poor adapted screenplay from Beth Raymer's book by D.V. DeVincentis. The premise here is appealing though, we, as the audience, are introduced to the behind-the-scenes escapist world of high stakes gambling and unbeatable ‘systems,’ but the only safe bets here are seasoned actors Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Vince Vaughn and Joshua Jackson being shackled with an unmotivated, unbridled film. Exactly what Lay the Favourite is in terms of genre is anyone's guess, it's not funny enough to be a comedy, and it's not dramatic enough to be a drama. It's certainly not a underworld-themed film as there is no violence on offer here.

    Lead actress Rebecca Hall – known for her work in The Prestige, The Town and Iron Man 3 puts in a great effort as the bubbly and brainy waitress turned whiz-kid Beth Raymer. Unfortunately, the characters and plot do not develop and the story goes nowhere, so the big-name supporting cast fall flat, through no fault of their own. The movie concludes with everyone getting involved in a big bet, involving the New Jersey Nets beating the LA Lakers in a major upset (is the film suggesting these things are fixed?) and a free-throw play after the final siren that will determine the winner. By this point you won't care… but if you manage to make it this far, stick around to watch Bruce Willis and Catherine Zeta-Jones do the twist over the end credits.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    Lay the Favourite was shot digitally using Sony’s CineAlta F35 Cameras and it looks quite good on DVD.

    The aspect ratio is 1:85:1, 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions.

    Despite the standard average bitrate of 6.48 m/b per sec, the video transfer looks reasonably sharp.

    The colour palette is realistic-looking, not dull, nor overly bright.

    There are no distinctive film artefacts on display.

    Subtitles are available in English for the hard of hearing.

    The RSDL change occurs at 56:36 during a scene transition, so it is not noticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The soundtrack is mainly functional and unremarkable in comparison to modern films.

    The main audio track is a Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at 448 kbps. There is an English Descriptive audio track available also which is in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo, encoded at 256 kbps.

    The dialogue is clear and synchronised from the centre channel.

    James Seymour Brett's score is fine but is not prominent in the film.

    Surround channel usage is mainly centred on the front speakers. There are some scenes which include ambience in all the speakers, but we mainly get surround action during the soundtrack songs which include Unskinny Bop by Poison, It Doesn't Matter Anymore by Linda Ronstadt and Shake A Tail Feather by Yolanda Windsay, performed during the end credits.

    The Subwoofer is subdued in this audio mix, there is not much LFE action.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Roadshow Trailers (7:04)

The DVD begins with three trailers for Silver Linings Playbook, 21 & Over and Movie 43. These trailers thankfully can be fast-forwarded to the main menu.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 United States and Region 2 United Kingdom DVD releases are identical to the Region 4 Australian release, with the US release having Spanish subtitling as an extra option.


Lay the Favourite only played in sixty theatres on its theatrical release in the United States, so the financial backers of this film will be hoping that it can recoup its $US20 million budget through Blu-ray and DVD sales. By the way, this is the reason why there is no extras on the DVD, there was simply no budget for it. (The Blu-ray gets one solitary extra of 7 minutes of deleted scenes.)

Lay the Favourite is useful for a rental on a Saturday night, but that's about it.

Ratings (out of 5)


© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 020), using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

Other Reviews NONE