The sophomore outing for Mark Illsley, the writer and director of 1999's Happy Texas, Bookies is a return to the crime comedy genre of the filmmaker's first project. Starring Nick Stahl, Lukas Haas, and Johnny Galecki as college buddies Toby, Casey, and Jude, the film begins with the trio upset over a substantial gambling loss. After paying up, they decide that they are on the wrong side of the transaction and concoct a plan to become bookies themselves. Working in the shadows so as not to let on that they are anything but professionals, the young entrepreneurs devise a system that involves leaving money in unpopular books at the library where Jude works. Before they know it, the guys are rolling in the dough. Casey buys a bunch of computer equipment, Jude gets himself a drug habit, and Toby uses his newfound wealth to impress Hunter, a fellow student played by Rachael Leigh Cook. But just as fast as things started to go well, they take an unexpected turn. The boys are making so much money that they're cutting into the business of the local mafia. As one might expect, the thugs don't take too kindly to competition. Also starring John Diehl and David Proval, Bookies premiered at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival.