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Finder's Fee Reviews

Best known as the creator and host of TV’s Survivor, first-time feature writer-director, Jeff Probst acquits himself well on the latter front, though his screenwriting is a tad uninspired. It’s a typical poker night for Tepper (Erik Palladino) except for two things. He plans to propose to his girlfriend after the game breaks up, and an act of kindness threatens to rock his world. Having found a wallet on the street, Tepper tries to contact the owner, Avery Phillips. Unfortunately, he leaves a message for Avery before discovering that the rescued wallet contains a lottery ticket worth a cool $6 million. Although Tepper and his gambling pals Bolan (Dash Mihok), Quigley (Ryan Reynolds) and Fishman (Matthew Lillard) chip in on weekly lotto purchases, he declines to tell any of them about his illicit windfall. Then someone who claims he's Avery Phillips (James Earl Jones) shows up. Although Tepper’s congenial buddies invite him to play, Tepper sweats over the stranger’s reluctance to leave. As Tepper dissembles about that evening’s TV drawing, his buddies notice his nervousness; only Tepper and the stranger know the value of the ticket Tepper is trying to conceal, but the other players insist that everyone toss in their lottery tickets to sweeten the pot. In a twist of fate, police cordon off the building while hunting a criminal. After Tepper’s unwanted guest hides from Officer Campbell (Robert Forster) in the bathroom, Tepper makes a big deal out of this suspicious behavior to his pals and to the policeman. Finally, Quigley figures out what's causing the tension between "Avery Phillips" and Tepper. Struggling with his conscience, Tepper cannot decide whether to fork over the ticket. Distrust and violence percolate, as Tepper deals with distrustful friends and an interloper who may be an impostor. The ensemble cast smooths over some of the screenplay's weaknesses, playing off each other smoothly and believably. Probst for his part redeems cliches about fate and honor by generating real tension within the confines of a single-set locale.