If “Lucky You” were a person, it would need a therapist. This movie just doesn’t know what it wants to be. Is it a romantic comedy? Or a pseudo-drama about fathers and sons? Or maybe it’s about the highs and lows of gambling and how lives can change on the luck of a draw? Sadly, it’s all of the above and none of the above at the same time. It’s this lack of a cohesive vision that dooms “Lucky You” from the fist hand.
Eric Bana plays Huck Cheever, a fiery poker player with an unparallel ability to read his opponents. Cheever is a not afraid of taking risks and, at times, plays with too much emotion — or so his father, L.C. (Robert Duvall), believes. The senior Cheever is a legendary poker player who has won the World Series of Poker twice. Predictably, the junior Cheever is always itching to get out of his Dad’s shadow.
This is the truly captivating aspect of the film. The father and son dynamic is laid with ease in the beginning, with only incomplete mentions here and there that leave the audience assuming there’s some Daddy issues – but interested in finding out more. As the story progresses, the rivalry and competition between the two Cheevers heat up and would have an audience foaming with anticipation for the final showdown… had it not been for the unfortunate inclusion of Drew Barrymore.
Drew Barrymore plays Billy Offer, a small-town girl recently relocated to Las Vegas in pursuit of a singing career. Offer, however, comes off as a recently lobotomized bumpkin involved in some kind of witness-relocation program. Her motivation for coming to Las Vegas is unclear, at best, and her involvement with the main character, Huck Cheever, is forced and reeking of bad scriptwriting.
Of no great to surprise to anyone, Cheever and Offer fall for each other. Offer plays the cliché woman’s role by trying to change her risk-taking and unreliable man, while Cheever screws up and jeopardizes the relationship (by stealing from the rube’s purse). He then spends the rest of the movie trying to redeem himself in the eyes of his newfound soulmate (my sarcasm detector just flew off the table). This leads to many memorable scenes (memorable in the bad way). Perhaps the most glaring sore thumb of which is when the cheesy couple is standing on a rooftop looking out on the beautiful Las Vegas scenery and, out of nowhere, Offer shares this pearl of wisdom: “You know what I think? I think everybody’s just trying not to be lonely.” That’s the kind of line where you can actually hear the audience’s eyes roll.
I suppose Offer serves a purpose, though. At times, it feels as if she works as a kind of human Poker For Dummies, giving director Curtis Hanson an opportunity to explain poker to the movie-going audience.
If that weren’t enough to stall the progression of a good father-son drama, Barrymore continues to turn in an embarrassing monotone performance that feels almost identical to the clueless, oh-so-innocent persona Winona Ryder’s character adopts in Mr. Deeds (if only Offer had just receded back into the netherworld of Winchestertonfieldville, Iowa – this film might have been saved).
Along with the problems inherent in the characters and script, Hanson does a poor job directing; there are numerous scenes that are completely pointless and add nothing to the overall course of the movie. Another very frustrating omission is the lack of development surrounding the actual interesting characters! At one point we’re introduced to Huck’s friend Jack (Robert Downey Jr.) who runs a plethora of 1-900 numbers and could really add to the movie — if he were in more then ONE scene, that is.
It’s a shame, really. There is a good movie hidden beneath all the distractions and Barrymore-led deterrents. If the romantic comedy aspect of this film were to vanish, we would be left with the story of a fiery gambler’s relationship with his poker-legend father and their joint journey into understanding the true nature of winning. That, coupled with a larger role from Downey Jr., is a movie I would want to see. As it stands, I wouldn’t even pick “Lucky You” out of a bargain bin at Blockbuster.
Steven Spielberg?s next film, titled Munich, will be about the kidnapping of Israeli athletes from the 1972 Olympics, says BBC News.
In an interview with Time magazine, the director has called his latest project ?a prayer for peace.?
“I don’t think any movie or any book or any work of art can solve the stalemate in the Middle East today. But it’s worth a try,” he said.
The film will be released on Dec. 23 in the U.S., but leaders of Jewish and Muslim groups along with diplomats and foreign policy officials will get a sneak peek before its opening date.
The Olympic kidnapping, which was organized by Palestinians, resulted in the deaths of 11 Israeli athletes, five kidnappers and one German policeman.
The film focuses on the Israeli response to the kidnappings. Eric Bana (The Hulk, Troy) plays a Mossad agent alongside Geoffrey Rush and Daniel Craig, the new James Bond.