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Film / Poolhall Junkies

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A 2002 thriller film directed by Mars Callahan, who also stars as a pool hustler named Johnny, once known as "The Sidepocket Kid", who decides to get out of the business after he learns that Joe (Chazz Palminteri), his manager, threw away his invitation to play in a professional pool league in order to keep making money off of him as a hustler. Unfortunately, it turns out he isn't any good at doing legitimate work, and what's worse, his little brother Danny (Michael Rosenbaum), something of a hustler himself, is set to get himself in a load of trouble with Joe when he gets in over his head.

This film contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Badass Boast: Delivered by Uncle Mike, setting up how he's going to pay anything to leave Joe with nothing.
    I'm a millionaire! That's the difference. I lose 80 I get another 80. For me it doesn't matter.
  • Batman Gambit: Johnny's final winning gamble involves using Joe's better-safe-than-sorry hustling mentality to work against him. To clarify, both Brad and Joe are convinced that Brad's final shot is impossible to make. Using some clever wordplay, Johnny bets that he could easily make Brad's shot. When Joe agrees to the bet (seeing it as easy money), he doesn't realize that he's just agreed to let Johnny take Brad's turn for him! Once Johnny misses the shot on Brad's turn, the balls are in the perfect position for him to make the shot on his turn, winning him the game.
  • Brick Joke: During one of the scenes with Danny & co. at their favorite restaurant, Max tells everyone that fake breast implants help prevent women from drowning. In a humorous scene that plays during the credits, Danny & his friends are shown placing a bet on whether one of the waitresses' breasts are real. When they find out that they are, Max tells her "Don't go swimming, you'll drown."
  • Briefcase Full of Money: Uncle Mike shows up with one.
  • Catchphrase: Johnny's "What, did I stutter?" line.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The car that Uncle Mike bets in the upstairs pool game is seen again at the end, where Johnny uses it to drive away with Tara (and it being implied that Mike gifted him the car as a token of thanks).
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Uncle Mike and Chico.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Johnny's ability to use Loophole Abuse to con people. It wins him the final game.
  • Common Knowledge: In-universe. Pretty much everything out of Max's mouth. The most typical response from his friends is to ask him Where do you get this shit?!
  • Did Not Think This Through: Danny gets himself in a world of trouble after getting into debt with Joe, culminating in him rashly attempt to rob a pawn shop in an attempt to raise several thousand dollars after Joe gives him 24 hours to come up with the money. The action leads to Danny being arrested immediately the moment he steps outside the pawn shop.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Johnny and Uncle Mike manage to completely get away with the money while Joe gets his (apparent) comeuppance, last being seen chased out of the poolhall by Chico and his gang. Tara and Johnny manage to smooth over their relationship troubles, and the epilogue heavily implies that Johnny fulfilled his dream of going pro.
  • Evil Lawyer Joke: Told by a lawyer, no less.
  • Exact Words: Leading directly to Loophole Abuse.
  • Fetish Retardant: Invoked by Chris, as to him stuffed animals, tattoos, and choking are this.
  • Final Boss Preview: Brad shows up in one of the first scenes of the movie, working for Chico. Chico wants him to play against Johnny when Johnny brashly ups the ante after finding out that Joe had thrown out his league invite. Brad declines because Johnny appears to have "a lot of personal shit" going on.
  • Grey-and-Grey Morality: Basically the film is about pool sharks hustling each other for varying reasons.
  • Hello, Attorney!: Hello Paralegal in the case of Johnny's girlfriend-slash-sugarmomma.
  • Ironic Echo: Johnny's Catchphrase gets repeated back to him by the end of the film.
    What, did I stutter? A few seconds ago, it was like a poolhall up in this mutha-fucker, now it's as quiet as a church!
  • Last-Second Word Swap: Because at one point, he's not playing pool in a poolhall, so he has to change his catchphrase mid-sentence for it to make any sense.
  • Loophole Abuse: Johnny is a master of using this. The final shot of the film is Johnny utilizing this trope, via paying $5,000 for Brad's shot, stopping the latter from taking his shot, and saying that he paid for Brad's shot, not his own shot, while Joe tries to bluster that Johnny can't do that.
  • Oh, Crap!: Joe, when he realizes that Johnny's backer is a millionaire. He also sports one near the beginning when he finds out Johnny set him up as payback, has another one when Johnny outsmarts him in the final stretch of the movie, and provides yet another one at the end when Chico comes in armed with a shotgun and backed up by his entire gang!
  • N-Word Privileges: Johnny. Because he and Chico? They're Niggas.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Brad. He hustles Danny for an outrageous sum of money, and Johnny has to play him to make back the money his brother owes Joe. As soon as the game is concluded and Chico shows up with a shotgun and a grudge against Joe, Brad packs up his gear and departs, making small talk with Johnny on the way out the door.
  • Screening the Call: At the beginning of the movie, Joe is going through the mail and finds a letter inviting Johnny to play in a professional tournament. Not wanting his meal-ticket to leave him he throws it away. Fast forward several years to when Johnny finds out that this has happened multiple times, and it causes an immediate rift between the two that sets off the plot for the rest of the film.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Brad is only being paid to play pool by Joe. The moment that Joe pulls a gun and Chico intervenes, Brad gives his farewells as he quickly packs up his gear and departs.
  • Shown Their Work: The folks who made the movie are very good pool players, and none of the shots are faked (of course, they are set up, but they still had to make those shots for the camera)
  • Those Two Guys: Tang, Chris, and Max. Danny's three friends who deliver easily 90% of the movie's funniest (and least relevant) dialogue.
  • To the Pain: Uncle Mike finally has enough of Joe's trash talk, and calls him out on the spot to put down everything of value he has with him, to include over eighty grand, his car, and even his gold ring. Casually throwing down cash to cover every last bit.
    Uncle Mike: I'm gonna leave you with nothing.
  • The Trope Kid: Johnny, formerly known as the Sidepocket Kid.
  • Uncle Pennybags: Uncle Mike, or as Joe calls him, "Daddy Warbucks". Mike seems to find the nickname amusing enough.
  • Where Do You Think You Are?: Joe unleashes a monologue at Uncle Mike along these lines during the final game, informing him that he's out of his depth in a pool hall like this, and how he'll remember the day that Joe took his eighty grand.
  • Worthy Adversary: Brad. After their high-stakes game, he makes small talk with Johnny and even gives him some encouraging words.
  • You Have No Idea Who You're Dealing With: Mike spells it out for Joe during the final game, when the latter attempts to intimidate the former by dramatically throwing $80,000 onto a pool table: He's a millionaire, eighty grand is literally nothing to him, and he can afford to keep throwing money on the table pretty much indefinitely until Johnny wins. And he intends to take Joe for every last thing he has, including his jewelry, just because Joe is such a dick.