Written by Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden, Mississippi Grind is an American drama set in the United States. This is a character portrait of two men, set against a lifestyle that is influenced by gambling and addiction, and the way their friendship develops. The main protagonists are Gerry, played by Emmy Award- Nominee Ben Mendelsohn and Curtin Vaughn, portrayed by Ryan Reynolds (from the TV series, “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place”). Main shooting on Mississippi Grind took place in Alabama, New Orleans and Baton Rouge. The movie was released in January, 2015 after it was completed with a budget of $6 million.
Mississippi Grind Story
While there are other characters in the movie, it is more of a two-man-show-come-character-dance between two very strong characters. The story begins with struggling but talented gambler, Gerry who meets the charismatic young traveler, Curtis at a bar. The movie takes them on a gambling trip down the Mississippi River, where they bounce from racing tracks to blackjack and poker tables. Their final destination is to attend a high-stakes poker game in New Orleans.
Gambling Theme in Mississippi Grind
There is no denying that the gambling landscape in the Southern part of the United States plays an important part in the theme of Mississippi Grind. We can see this in many scenes:
- The two characters attend a dog track together where they win a large bet. Gerry eventually gambles the bet away.
- At a bar, the two try to place a $1,000 bet on a game of pool. They are so drunk that they are thrown off the property.
- The two embark on a gambling trip down South. Their aim is to attend a poker game in New Orleans with a $25,000 buy in.
- Gerry enjoys a successful poker session on a riverboat casino.
- Gerry then has a great run on a Texas Hold ‘em poker game in Memphis. Unfortunately, he loses everything on the final river card.
- The two visit a casino in Tunica, where Curtis has a VIP player card.
- Gerry sells his car to back a heavy bet at a horse race but loses nearly all his money.
- Gerry bets his remaining bankroll on a roulette game and eventually wins.
- When a defeated Curtis comes to Gerry’s blackjack table, he shares his chips with his friend who has lost everything. Together, they continue to win while playing craps and other games.
- Eventually, the pair wins half a million dollars and part ways.
- In the final theme of the movie, Gerry listens to an instructional CD in his car, which tells how a confident player should sit. Gerry takes the words to heart and he changes his gait.
Gambling Inspires Movies and Vice Versa
The exciting gambling industry is worth billions of dollars, and it comes as no surprise that card games, slots and races have inspired multiple movies such as Mississippi Grind. Likewise, the gambling world has borrowed many of its themes from mainstream movies and TV series. Some of the most popular brick-and-mortar and online slot games are based on the best movies through the ages.
Movie inspired slots have taken their cue from these classics:
- Jurassic Park
- Top Gun
- Dirty Dancing
- Planet of the Apes
- King Kong
- Beauty and the Beast
- The Matrix
Play them here.
How Successful is Mississippi Grind?
This isn’t a movie that’s for gambling fans only, although it will certainly appeal to those who enjoy this form of entertainment. Mississippi Grind is a powerful drama that heroically explores the relationship between the two protagonists. The acting is good, and it is joy to watch Mendelsohn and Reynolds interact on screen.
I think that Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden tackled the subject matter uniquely and sensitively. It’s definitely not your run-of-the-mill Hollywood movie, and the theme may not appeal to everyone, but as a niche movie, it deserves more fans.
This is not the first film to be based on a legendary road trip between two friends (think: Transamerica, Little Miss Sunshine and Crossroads), but Mississippi Grind goes beyond that popular genre. It looks at the problem of gambling addiction right in the eye, with absolutely no filters, tying it in with the journey – both physically on the road and emotionally between the friends.
The writers have often been asked if Mississippi Grind is based on a true story. It is not, but Boden and Flack have said in interviews that they are always interested in real responses and emotions from audiences. They are pleased with the way the movie has inspired conflicting feelings among viewers.
Unfortunately, not everyone shares our opinion. Mississippi Grind pulled in just $130,000 in the box office and got a 91% ‘Tomotometer’ rate on Rotten Tomatoes. I suggest that you see it for yourself and make your own decision.