Lay the Favorite

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Lay the Favorite
Lay the Favorite FilmPoster.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Stephen Frears
Produced by Randall Emmett
George Furla
Paul Trijbits
Screenplay by D.V. DeVincentis
Based on Lay the Favorite: A Memoir of Gambling
by Beth Raymer
Starring Bruce Willis
Rebecca Hall
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Joshua Jackson
Music by James Seymour Brett
Cinematography Michael McDonough
Edited by Mick Audsley
Distributed by Cheetah Vision
Random House Films
The Weinstein Company
Release date
  • January 21, 2012 (2012-01-21) (Sundance Film Festival)
  • December 7, 2012 (2012-12-07) (United States)
Running time
94 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $20 million
Box office $1,576,687

Lay the Favorite (promoted as Lay the Favourite in the UK) is a 2012 American comedy-drama film starring Bruce Willis, Rebecca Hall, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Joshua Jackson. Based on Beth Raymer's memoir of the same title, the film follows a young, free-spirited woman as she journeys through the legal and illegal world of sports gambling. The film was directed by Stephen Frears.


Beth is becoming bored with her life in Florida, doing stripteases and lap dances for private customers. Her dad, Jerry, tells her to follow her dream of moving to Las Vegas, where she seeks honest work as a cocktail waitress.

A young woman named Holly, who lives at the same Vegas motel, arranges for Beth to meet Dink Heimowitz, a professional gambler who follows the fast-changing odds on sporting events and employs assistants at Dink, Inc., to lay big-money bets for him. Beth is intrigued and it turns out she has a good mind for numbers, easily grasping Dink's system and becoming his protégée. She also is his lucky charm but when bets go south he fires her. A young journalist, Jeremy, becomes attracted to Beth, but she is hooked on the excitement and income that gambling provides and is not ready to settle for any kind of normal life.

When Beth begins expressing a more personal interest in her much-older mentor, Dink's sharp-tongued wife, Tulip, lets it be known in no uncertain terms that she wants Beth out of her husband's life. Beth goes to New York to be with Jeremy but accepts a similar job for a rival bookie called Rosie. Gambling is illegal in New York and Dink worries about Beth. Rosie then sets up a legal operation based in Curaçao and Beth goes down to help run the betting. Rosie and his men are more interested in drugs and hookers and Beth wants out. A New York gambler, Dave Greenberg, is in debt for Sixty Thousand Dollars and may be working for the Feds.

Dink and his wife Tulip come to New York to help out Beth and Jeremy. They strong arm Greenberg and he gives them a hot tip on a New Jersey basketball team. The team wins in the last second by one point and everyone clears their gambling debts. The movie is a true story based on Beth Raymer's memoir who in real life goes to college and becomes a writer.



Filming began in April 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.[citation needed] Shooting also took place in New Orleans, and New York City.[citation needed] It was released January 21, 2012.


The film received negative reviews from critics. It holds a 19% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 48 reviews.

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