Review: ‘Unfavorable Odds,’ starring Grayson Berry, Maria Tornberg, Charles Malik Whitfield and Charles Ambrose

September 13, 2022

by Carla Hay

Maria Tornberg and Grayson Berry in “Unfavorable Odds” (Photo courtesy of Atlas Distribution)

“Unfavorable Odds”

Directed by Boogievision

Culture Representation: Taking place in Dallas and New York City, the comedy film “Unfavorable Odds” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with some African Americans and Latinos) representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: A married man makes a $5,000 bet with his rich playboy bachelor friend that this ladies’ man won’t be able to seduce his wife. 

Culture Audience: “Unfavorable Odds” will appeal primarily to people who don’t mind watching bad acting in a terrible and monotonous film that looks like it’s a behind-the-times TV movie.

Charles Malik Whitfield and Charles Ambrose in “Unfavorable Odds” (Photo courtesy of Atlas Distribution)

The title of the atrocious romantic comedy “Unfavorable Odds” can also describe viewers’ chances of enjoying this outdated, sexist, garbage dump of a movie. It’s very boring and amateurly made in every single way. “Unfavorable Odds” isn’t even self-aware trash, like other bad comedies about marital infidelity temptation. “Unfavorable Odds” has the tone of a movie that has no idea how stupid and off-putting it is, which makes watching this junk even more unbearable.

“Unfavorable Odds” is directed by Michael “Boogie” Pinckney, who calls himself Boogievision for the movie’s director credit. That should tell you right there how obnoxious and pretentious this movie is, when it’s really just a low-quality cesspool of foolishness. “Unfavorable Odds” has three people credited as the movie’s screenwriters: Corey Toney, Edna Janeen White and Tony D. White. All it means is that it took three people to come up with a movie concept and dialogue so vacuous, all of it could been churned out by one dimwitted screenwriter, or even a half-functioning, obsolete robotic machine.

Everything about “Unfavorable Odds” looks like it was a moldy idea from the 20th century that some misguided people decided to make into a movie and release in theaters. “Unfavorable Odds” definitely isn’t worth the price of a movie ticket or even worth anyone’s time, even if someone were stuck in a room with nothing do but watch “Unfavorable Odds.” The movie is so dull, it could put viewers to sleep. But even that’s not a good option, because “Unfavorable Odds” is aggressively idiotic, and people should not feel aggravated before they go to sleep.

In “Unfavorable Odds,” workaholic businessman Brad Wilson (played by Grayson Berry) spends most of the movie giving half-hearted excuses for why he’s an inattentive husband to his loyal and long-suffering wife Victoria Wilson (played by Maria Tornberg), who is a freelance interior decorator. Brad and Victoria, who live in Dallas and are in their 40s, have been trying unsuccessfully to start a family. The movie never states how long they’ve been married.

When the movie begins, Victoria is frustrated because, once again, Brad has made his job a priority over their marriage. The movie never goes into details about what Brad does for a living, but he works as some kind of financial advisor or financial planner in a high-rise corporate office. Brad and Victoria have an appointment to visit a fertility doctor, but Brad forgot about the appointment and made plans to spend time with a business client instead.

Victoria seems to be accustomed to Brad’s flakiness when it comes to their relationship. She’s annoyed that Brad hasn’t made himself available for this appointment. She agrees to reschedule the appointment, but demands that Brad make up for this inconvenience in some way that will please her. When the appointment is rescheduled, viewers get a clearer sense of how much of a jerk Brad is.

The appointment is with a fertility specialist named Dr. Young (played by Sky Crystal), who is under the age of 40. Apparently, having a young, good-looking doctor bothers Brad. When Brad and Victoria are alone in the exam room, Brad immediately goes on a very unfunny rant about how Dr. Young is an accurate name.

Brad says to Victoria, “We’ve got Doogie Howser as our doctor.” It’s a reference to “Doogie Howser, M.D.,” the 1989 to 1993 TV series, starring Neil Patrick Harris as a child prodigy doctor. When was this “Unfavorable Odds” screenplay written? The late 20th century?

The “joke” is on Brad, because Dr. Young goes back in the room and lets it be known in a good-natured way that he heard everything that Brad said. The doctor says that, for the record, he’s 33 years old. This scene is supposed to be funny, but it just falls flat.

Valentine’s Day happens soon after Victoria wants Brad to make amends for rescheduling their fertility doctor appointment. Brad goes to a department store with his two best friends, and they are all shopping to buy Valentine’s Day gifts for the ladies in their lives. Brad’s two bachelor pals, who are also his co-workers, have very different approaches to dating women.

Wes (played by Charles Ambrose) is an arrogant, rich playboy who brags about being able to successfully date multiple women at the same time. Kenny (played by Charles Malik Whitfield, also known as Malik Whitfield) is a sarcastic pessimist who isn’t as confident as Wes when it comes to dating. A running “joke” in the movie is that Kenny tends to choose women who berate him, stalk him, and accuse him of cheating.

At the department store, Wes picks out multiple selections of lingerie for all of the women he’s dating. Brad’s Valentine’s Day gift to Victoria is a CD of Duran Duran’s greatest hits. (Again: What year was this screenplay written? When was the last time you saw CDs sold at a brick-and-mortar department store?) Victoria likes the gift, but Brad could have chosen something more romantic for Valentine’s Day.

When Brad whines to Kenny about how he’s afraid that Victoria has gotten bored with their marriage, Kenny quips sardonically, “No vacations, no kids, crappy gifts—yeah, you’re a keeper.” Brad feels very insecure and jealous when he compares his own life to Wes’ life.

Brad and Wes often act more like enemies than like friends. It’s revealed much later in the movie (not until the last 20 minutes) that Wes and Brad have known each other since they were kids, and they’ve have had a longtime rivalry where Brad always felt overshadowed by Wes. It’s an example of how poorly written this movie’s screenplay is, because this personal backstory isn’t mentioned until the movie is almost over.

“Unfavorable Odds” has too many lackluster comedy gags to mention. One of them involves multiple scenes of Brad’s British boss Nigel (played by Brian Hokanson), who is very touch-feely with Brad, much to Brad’s discomfort. Kenny jokes to Brad that Nigel could be sexually interested in Brad. Later in the movie, when they’re all in a conference room meeting together, Brad gets “revenge” on Kenny for this teasing, by telling Nigel that Kenny wants Nigel to touch Kenny the way that Nigel touches Brad. It’s supposed to be this movie’s idea of “comedy.”

The rivalry between Brad and Wes is taken to a crass level that makes Victoria an unwitting pawn in their male ego posturing. One day, Brad gets fed up with hearing Wes boast about how successful Wes is in seducing any woman he wants. And so, Brad makes a $5,000 bet with Wes that Wes will not able to seduce Victoria in 10 days.

“Unfavorable Odds” wants to be salacious but also wants to play it too safe. Brad places one big condition on this bet: Wes has to seduce Victoria into wanting to have sex with Wes, but there can’t actually be any sexual contact between Wes and Victoria. The movie’s title comes from Brad’s belief that Brad has unfavorable odds of winning the bet, because of Wes’ track record of seduction.

Wes shows a shred of decency by asking Brad if he really wants to make a bet that could destroy the marriage of Brad and Victoria. Brad insists that they make the bet, so Wes agrees, with a little reluctance. Brad then gets paranoid that Wes will win the bet, so the majority of the “Unfavorable Odds” consists of Brad’s idiotic and pathetic stalking of Wes and Victoria.

As part of his seduction plan, Wes hires Victoria to do a high-paying interior decorating job for him. It’s a job she eagerly accepts. At one point, Wes whisks Victoria away on his private jet to New York City, where Wes says they need to pick out some art and furniture for this interior decorating project. Guess who follows Wes and Victoria to New York?

Everything in “Unfavorable Odds” plays out like an ignorant child’s version of how adults would act in this highly manipulative “game” that Brad has set up for his unsuspecting wife. Brad goes to the same places as Wes and Victoria, but ducks behind walls or holds things in front of his face so they can’t see him when he’s just a few feet away. It all just looks so unrealistic and not amusing at all.

There are scenes that make absolutely no sense and are sloppily staged. For example, while in the New York City hotel where Wes and Victoria are staying, stalker Brad steals a hotel maid’s cleaning cart from a hallway so he can sneak into Wes’ hotel room. The maid chases after him, and the scene then cuts to Brad in Wes’ hotel room, with no mention of how Brad got inside the room.

Was Brad able to get a master key? Why didn’t the maid contact hotel security? And even though Brad eventually buys small surveillance cameras to spy on Wes and Victoria, the movie tries to ignore the fact that Brad can’t place secret cameras everywhere that Wes and Victoria are alone together. There are too many unanswered questions that “Unfavorable Odds” is too dumb too answer.

The acting in “Unfavorable Odds” is mostly awkward and terrible. Whitfield is the movie’s only principal cast member who comes close to having comedic timing that’s competent. The movie, which has substandard editing, rushes in a plot development for Wes in the last 10 minutes. Almost everything about this movie looks extremely phony.

And to make matters worse, Victoria is written as a woman who is easily fooled and manipulated by Brad and Wes, who don’t have much respect for her. There’s a very backwards, misogynistic and distasteful tone to “Unfavorable Odds,” because of the movie’s concept that a husband bets with money on his wife’s sexuality, in order to stroke his own ego. This bet isn’t about Victoria. This bet is about Brad, his vanity, and his need to prove to Wes that Brad is in total control of Victoria in their marriage.

Brad thinks that he’s so desirable, Victoria wouldn’t dare be sexually seduced by another man, even though he knows his marriage to Victoria is on shaky ground because he hasn’t been paying enough attention to her. It’s implied throughout the movie that if Victoria wants to cheat on Brad with Wes, then she’s the one who will get all the blame and the punishment. Brad is the type of narcissistic husband who would do something awful to his wife and then would say to her, “You made me do it.”

In other words, there are no real winners in this “bet,” even though “Unfavorable Odds” desperately tries to make viewers root for selfish and moronic Brad. If anyone has the misfortune of choosing to watch “Unfavorable Odds” with the expectation that it might be entertaining, that is a bet that people will lose, along with any time or money wasted on watching this nonsense.

Atlas Distribution released “Unfavorable Odds” in select U.S. cinemas on September 9, 2022.

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