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Movie Review: Lucky You

Lucky You
Directed by Curtis Hanson
Written by Hanson and Eric Roth
Warner Bros.

With acclaimed L.A Confidential and Wonder Boys director Curtis Hanson collaborating with The Insider and Forrest Gump writer Eric Roth on a film about love and poker, Warner Bros. probably thought they had a can’t-miss film in the works two years ago.  They may not have even read the script, actually, and just let Hanson go on and make his film without any supervision, because for some reason, for over a year, the studio kept pushing back its release date.

The trailers looked pretty good at least.  What in the world could be so bad about this film?  Well, Lucky You isn’t one of the worst movies you’ll see, but it is a fairly insignificant one, considering the talent involved.

Huck Cheever (Eric Bana) is always out of money, mainly because he’s a great poker player who is known as a “blaster,” throwing caution to the wind in every hand.  At the very beginning, he’s trying to hock his mother’s wedding ring for whatever he can get.  He’s owes all of his friends money.  And he keeps losing it on reckless Texas Hold ‘Em play and stupid bets.

One day he meets Billie Offer (Drew Barrymore), who seems to have the power to make him change, because she’s Drew Barrymore.  Her sister Suzanne (Debra Messing) tries to warn her about him, but people are going to do what they’re going to do and it’s not long before Billie and Huck start a romance, and Huck’s destructive personality breaks things off in the early going.

If he ever was a big loser it was to his bastard dad L.C. (Robert Duvall), who left Huck’s mom, stealing from her and becoming a world champion poker player, winning the World Series of Poker twice and moving on to bigger things.  Huck hates but desperately wants to be his dad, and after some failed attempts to enter the World Series on his own, gets backed by a wealthy Vegas man (Charles Martin Smith) to play at a percentage, and a possible showdown with daddy.

And well, here’s how the movie goes: the romance isn’t exciting, and doesn’t make sense because I couldn’t figure out what was so special about Billie that Huck thinks she’s “the one.”  Yeah, she’s a cutie.  But there are a lot of cuties out there.  Anyway, the romance pretty much takes a backseat to the father-son showdown anyway, and it is a relationship that demands its own movie not to have its attention divided by a love story with no spark.

But that’s marketing for you.  If the studio did have a hand in all this it was probably to say, “Hey, we need a girl to sell this movie.”  Considering the disinterest that Hanson and Roth have in the love story, it makes sense that the film was shelved for so long, looking for a proper strategy.  I don’t know what opening against Spider-Man 3 has to do with proper strategy, considering most counterprogramming titles have a little more public awareness than Lucky You does.  Warner Bros. is certainly going to need a lot of luck this weekend to get Spider-Man’s leftovers.

One positive thing to say about this movie: the opening scene is great, and I thought it could have used a lot more of it.  It shows Huck at a pawn shop trying to convince the owner that if he buys his camera, there was a way to increase the value of all of the other same cameras in the shop by staggering the prices of each.  It’s very Tarantino-esque dialogue, and after that opening, I was expecting a much better ride than I got.

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