There is a plot to "Two For The Money". There is a moral, there are some subplots, and there are even other people on the screen besides our three leads. However all of these things are simply scenery, and Pacino and McConaughey are in an eating contest.
McConaughey is a would-have-been football hero, zapped from his potential pro-ball career by a college-game injury. He instead winds up picking winners for gamblers via a 900 phone line in Vegas.
His picks are so good, in fact, that he draws the attention of Pacino, in New York, who wants him to come work for him in Nwe York where he "sells" advice to big-money betters.
If any of you are picking up on some strange similarities between this film and "The Devil's Advocate", poo-poo you. There's nothing strange about it at all, it's a formula that works. Pacino is one of the most charismatic actors ever. Watching him bewitch the innocent costar is the draw of these movies. It worked in "Advocate", it worked in "The Recruit" and it works here.
The thing that doesn't work here is the fact that we see the pattern so early in the movie that the effect wears off too soon to keep the plot twists from being telegraphed two scenes ahead.
Pacino hires McConaughey as a golden boy of football picks. We never really know why he's so good, at least not enough to understand why he starts losing. At first we're lead to think that it's because he's gotten too cocky about his talent, but when his character humbles himself to "get back to it", he still continues to lose. He wants to quit, Pacino won't let him. One of their biggest clients stops McConnaughey while he's out for a bike ride, holds him down, and urinates on him for making bad picks that weekend, and McConnaughey not only fails to share this information with his mentor, but we never hear another word about it. He's threatened with violence against his family back home if he doesn't start picking winners, but we never hear about that anymore (even when he loses big again the next week).
Lots of build up, not much follow through. However two things keep this movie very watchable.
First is, naturally, the performanes. McConnaughey does well with a fairly one-dimensional character because he is very likable and good-looking. Pacino is everybody's favorite bravura performer, and he answers the call in every scene. Rene Russo is quite good as Pacino's wife, who serves as a voice of reason for the egos of both men several times.
The second draw is that we see Pacino as a superpower who ultimately proves quite vulnerable. When his empire begins to crumble, he doesn't get to go the Corleone route and just kill more people. He eventually has to face his demons, and he does so with a restraint and modesty rarely afforded him in "Al Pacino" roles such as this.