A high-stakes televised poker championship in Las Vegas serves as the milieu for "The Grand," a mostly winning mockumentary boasting a terrific cast of actors who improvised a majority of the proceedings.
Director Zak Penn's comedy focuses on six contestants hoping to take the top spot, including a not-so-recovering drug addict (Woody Harrelson), a clueless amateur (Richard Kind) and a tired housewife (Cheryl Hines) with a loser husband (Ray Romano) and an insecure brother (David Cross). Best of the bunch is former "Saturday Night Live" player Chris Parnell, as a socially inept man-child who still lives with his mom, and insults her cooking by giving it "five stars "¦ five stars that have each collapsed into a black hole."
Although a little long and a little baffling for those of us who don't know the rules of the game, "The Grand" deals out several good laughs, with ace support from Andrea Savage and Gabe Kaplan (welcome back, Mr. Kotter!). It's no classic, but it's funnier than the Christopher Guest's two most recent attempts at bat.